Our project was to explore the culture of Qatar, whilst keeping to the partnerships and connections theme of this semester, we made skype contact with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. in where we tried to attain and share ideas of cultural value to each others countries. the outcome would be to represent a kiosk that best explains their country.


Our research led us to think about many element to Qatar, and we became commonly focused on the aspect of cultural identity in Qatar. with a country that has boomed vastly within the last decade and the population exceeding national Qataris, there is potential that Qatari culture is being diluted. So we began a cultural probe to ask, What is it to be Qatari? our result showed that Qatar was a very cultural place, and that national identity of being from Qatar didn’t matter so much. they are a very liberal nation.


In 1995 Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, takes controll of Qatar and with his wife sets up the Qatar Foundation. The foundation is a non profit organisation that aims to help develop the nation of Qatar through education. The foundation has key elements to success  with the idea of the 3 pillars. Education Science and Research and Community development, and they set up a vision of becoming a knowledge based economy by 2030. They want to unlock human potential.


What unites both the Qatari and Expat populations is that, in the main, they originate from the Islamic world. We therefore looked at Islamic design from across the region for inspiration.

Light plays an important role in Islamic Design. Strong sunlight and shadows are used to enhance bold geometric forms, whilst intricately wrought screens cast cooling patterned shadows.


Throughout their history, Islamic Artists have developed simple geometry into complex layered patterns with the subtle use of colour, tone and positive and negative space. Based on the circle these often result in interlocking star-shaped patterns, and are used exuberantly with Calligraphy and Foliate patterns to completely cover surfaces.


Combining Traditional Islamic ‘4-Fold’ Garden Design (chahar-bagh) with a sense of the enlightened aspirations the Foundation has for Qatar, our initial sketch design takes the idea of a central ‘Pearl of Wisdom’; a fountain from which flow 4 symbolic water filled channels.

Above this a tensile structure in the shape of a flame, speaks both of future aspirations, current oil exploration and the nomadic past.


Continuing with the idea of expressing Education and Self Discovery, the ‘Geode’ concept appears externally as a smooth solid neutral cube, which evolves into a bright unique crystalline interior. This mirrors the region’s traditional architecture and culture which appears closed and solid externally, but opens up into inviting shaded internal courtyards.


The Funnel concept was developed from looking at, Maxamillions Shell by Ball Nogues and the Green Void by Lava. These elegant forms give an nice visual representation to the idea of Qatar being 15-85 % of nationals, the 85% being expats. the idea is that a whole mix of cultures to Qatar is filtered into one small nation, converging on an Islamic state.


We then developed the idea of the Sidra tree. The tree flourishes in the harsh conditions of Qatar and serves as a place for Qataris to meet and take rest under. Its links to the Qatar Foundation as the foundations logo is the Sidra tree. and has really nice links to its 3 pillars for growth within education. all this information led us towards wanting to finalize our design to represent the Qatar Foundation using the form of the Sidra tree.


We decided to focus on the Sidra Tree concept, not just because it is the symbolically important ‘logo’ of the Qatar foundation, as the traditional gathering place to exchange ideas, but because it is an important symbol throughout the Arab world.

We made a series of maquettes and CAD models to explore this idea further, unfortunately in the process having to leave some of our favoured ideas behind due to the 3m size constraint making them unworkable.


Central to our concept were:

  • The image of the Sidra tree.
  • The concept of the 3 Pillars – Education, Science and Research & Community Development.
  • A fusion of Tradition and Future aspirations.
  • Geometric Pattern and Structure.
  • Light and Shadow.


The final design consists of a heavy timber floor base, veneered in local date palm wood, into which is cut a traditional Islamic pattern. From this star pattern rise 3 trunks, representing the ‘3 Pillars’ and a translucent Plexiglas canopy onto which is etched information about the Qatar Foundation. During the day these words cast a dappled shadow pattern across the base.

At night the pattern in the floor becomes a pattern of neon coloured LED light, which illuminates the structure from below.


The construction is simple erect and dismantle. The 3 trunks are bolted individually to the floor with steel base plates and together by an inner mirror finished stainless steel ring. The lightweight canopies are then inserted into this structure and held in place by a retractable steel pins.


The Text on our structure will be visually translucent, and written in not only Arabic but also English, in terms of aesthetics, the typography would be in the same style for both kinds of language. The information of the foundation will be represented on the internal skin of the structure and will also show information to the future of Qatar.


Our structure is to be transported around the world to raise awareness of  the Qatar Foundation and the future of Qatar. It serves as an Informative Kiosk bringing people together and allows for people to sit under neath on the floor traditionally like they would have with the Sidra tree.

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