US Embassy Doha, Qatar
US Embassy Doha, Qatar
Doha, Qatar

A Direct Environmental Response Tied to Tradition

Located on the western edge of the Persian Gulf Qatar is a small country with a rich history and a growing importance in the modern world. Pearl fishing and Bedouin nomadic culture defined its early history, but the discovery of oil quickly transitioned Doha to a modern economy. Although there has been an influx of wealth natural resources are scarce. The new Embassy design is inspired by the local traditions and building typologies with a focus on sustainability.

The site is located north of downtown Doha in a new diplomatic zone. The site perimeter opens to the south providing a glimpse of internal gardens to the adjacent diplomatic development. A representational entry garden at the main entry is flanked by two entry pavilions: one for visitors and one for diplomats. The interior of the campus is organized by four zones: representational, recreational, residential, and service. A series of arcades connect each zone unifying the campus and provide shaded pathways between buildings while defining outdoor court, plaza, and garden spaces. Large cable tensioned shade structures reminiscent of traditional Bedouin tents mark entry plazas, recreational areas, and residential terraces.

The Embassy building consists of a plinth and tower. Public functions occupy the plinth with direct access to outdoor gathering spaces and gardens. Office functions in the tower are organized around a central courtyard increasing daylight to interior spaces and providing upper levels with access to outdoor space. The tower is wrapped with a series of tensioned fabric screens; its pattern informed by traditional Sadu weaving. Each façade is attenuated based on solar orientation to protect the building and its occupants from the harsh desert sun. A range of fabric panels sizes are composed along the elevations to maximize access to views while diffusing and bouncing daylight deep into the building.

The Embassy campus is designed for resiliency by responding to the harsh desert climate with sustainable materials and systems. Plant selection and irrigation systems were designed to address water scarcity. Landscape basins are interconnected with a runnel system that utilizes as much storm water as possible before being stored for future irrigation water. Doha’s municipal greywater is used for landscape irrigation along with water supply for onsite water features. A large solar array shades staff parking and will provide a significant renewable energy source far into the future.

Early Bedouin nomadic culture survived the harsh desert environment with their deep understanding of climate and local building traditions. Bedouin tents, recognizable by their peaked roof line formed by black fabric stretched over rope and posts, was their primary protection from the elements. Long, loose, white robes or Thawbs further protected nomads from the sun. Their movements were attuned to the elements and driven by the search for scarce natural resources.

The concept for the embassy was inspired by these traditional elements, the need for shade, and preservation of natural resources. A series of tensioned fabric screens wraps the Embassy tower protecting the envelope from solar heat gain. Stone clad arcades, inspired by regional typologies, unify the campus providing interconnected shaded pathways that define outdoor spaces. Large cable tensioned shade structure reminiscent of traditional Bedouin tents mark entry plazas, recreational areas, and residential terraces. Shade, water, and landscape design elements provide protection from the sun and create outdoor spaces that are habitable throughout the year.

Design Architect:  Richärd Kennedy Architects


Client:  U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations


Size:  236,000 SF


Project Type:  Civic + Public


Services:  Architecture, Interior Design


Delivery Method:  Design Build


Design MEP Engineer:  ARUP


Design Structural Engineer:  ARUP


Civil Design: Cowen Design Group


Landscape Design Architect:  OLIN

Early Bedouin nomadic culture survived the harsh desert environment with their deep understanding of climate and local building traditions. Bedouin tents, recognizable by their peaked roof line formed by black fabric stretched over rope and posts, was their primary protection from the elements. Long, loose, white robes or Thawbs further protected nomads from the sun. Their movements were attuned to the elements and driven by the search for scarce natural resources.

The concept for the embassy was inspired by these traditional elements, the need for shade, and preservation of natural resources. A series of tensioned fabric screens wraps the Embassy tower protecting the envelope from solar heat gain. Stone clad arcades, inspired by regional typologies, unify the campus providing interconnected shaded pathways that define outdoor spaces. Large cable tensioned shade structure reminiscent of traditional Bedouin tents mark entry plazas, recreational areas, and residential terraces. Shade, water, and landscape design elements provide protection from the sun and create outdoor spaces that are habitable throughout the year.

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