Initial General Mindmap of appropriate iconic imagery.


Mindmapping the Initial Concept Design

Initial Concept Design


This concept is based around the idea of contrast and changing perception. Like the traditional buildings of this region (where the exterior is geometrically solid whilst the interior opens up into a courtyard garden,) our design is externally solid, cubic and neutral coloured with small glimpses of the modern vivid interior, which you enter almost like an abstract cave. There are a parallels drawn between superficially observing a culture and looking more deeply into it and seeing its intricacies and beauty, as well as the process of self-discovery through education. It is like cracking open a geode to discover the beauty of the crystals within.


This concept is based around the idea of change, perception and the layers of a culture. Based on Islamic screens and layering of complex geometric patterns, this design uses a series of semi-transparent screens that from some angles seem solid and unchanging, whilst from others appear transparent and open. The aim is to mimic the state of flux in attitude and lifestyles within Qater.  From each angle you perceive a different viewpoint, like the many individuala that make up a culture.


The base is solid, neutral coloured and inscribed with narrow channels in an Islamic Geometric pattern through which water flows from a small bubble fountain. It represents the 15%, the Qatari people, Wealth, and Tradition. Suspended above this is a modern, light, vividly coloured transparent structure representing the other 85%, the Expats, their transient state, pouring their skills and expertise into Qatar and making it the Modern Vibrant place it is.

We sought to develop this idea further with the idea of viewing this funnel shape from both sides as representative of our wish to perceive different peoples viewpoints within the Qatari Culture.

This lead to the funnel curving back onto itself and enveloping itself in a tree-like form.


We had decided last week to base our cultural kiosk on the Qatar Foundation, the logo of which is the Sidra tree, so in some respects we have come full circle with this concept design.

A development of the ‘Funnel 85/15’ concept, but also bringing in elements of the ‘Geode’, the base is as described above, with the Sidra Tree structure growing out of the Islamic Pattern channels inscribed in the floor, almost as if they are its roots. The tree’s ‘foliage’ is made of individual translucent components possible modelled on the shapes found in traditional maqarnas domes. These panels will cast geometric patterns of colour and light onto the neutral base, overlaying the islamic pattern with a changing modern design. It is envisaged that relevant imagery/text be printed on the inside of these leaves.

Kyle’s sketches

Here is my own initial drawing of a structure type to a funnel incorporating initial pattern designs and possible materials.

Also further developing the funnel idea I took forward the notion of, the 10% – 90% theory. this theory representing the 10% of Qatar’s population being Qatari while the 90% being expats. I played with this idea in a “perception” point of view reflecting back to what is Qatar and using some sort of visual statement, with the larger end of the spectrum viewing Doha and the smaller end being the individual.

‘Inversion’, by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck.

Here I started to play with the funnels from and creating some very organic shapes.

The link between a funnel and the Sidra tree started to take a natural form, and is represented a lot within most of are further developed drawings. Another development to our concept is the introduction of the 3 pillars idea. This idea comes within the Qatar Foundation and holds key to what we believe Qatar plans for the future and creating a cultural hub to the world. The pillars being Education, Science/Research and  Community Development. We decided that we should create our kiosk as an informative piece about the Qatar Foundation and we have initial ideas to introduce the concept using a colour coded aspect or even 3 main components to our form.

More development of the 3 pillars from a foundation point of view.

A more angular concept of the tree, funnel idea.

Here we started thinking about the structure a lot more,  considering how the forms would be placed together and situated. they seem to allow these free flow forms to work with wire frame structures.

Geometry begins to weave into our forms whilst still thinking about structure stability and tension. We found that we began to make a form that is a whole structure rather than making 3 separate entities.


Experiments with folded 3D forms and patterns.

Initial sketch ideas for surfaces leading to 3d model making samples.

Inspiration taken from geometry and pattern of maqarnas vaults as a possible structure.

We felt that this might get quite complicated in such a small space, so started to play with overlapping translucent 2D shapes, to give different levels of light transmission in geometric patterns.

Gradations in the size of elements to creat a curved form.

Development Models of the overall Concept

Dividing the tree form into 3 elements, and trying to visualize how low to take the sides. This is too enclosed.

 A more organic form, the sides are open and the space therefore visually extends beyond the 3m x 3m square.

Trying to rationalise the shape to a geometry. It wasn’t working so I didn’t finish the model.

Playing with a more angular interpretation of the Sidra Tree form.

Returning to the Initial Tree shaped Funnel Concept

STRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT of Sidra Tree / Recurved Funnel / 3d Geometric Form.

We are envisioning a futuristic translucent tent like structure, that folds into a cylindrical form for transportation, but is simple to erect and tension into the desired form. The structural members would be carbon fibre rods for strength and flexibility.

The form is almost a 3d flower pattern growing from a nine pointed star within the traditional Islamic pattern routed into the heavy base panel. This represents the growth and blooming of culture in the Islamic world that the Qatar Foundation intends to be the centre of. We deliberately chose this star rather than the larger, because Qatar is surrounded by larger countries, but it can still be the centre, and because the pattern at this point shows a three-fold symmetry that reminds us of the three pillars of the Qatar Foundation. Initially we had intended to run water along these routed channels, now we are thinking of lighting strips to give a different dimension to the space at night, lighting it from below.

The shadow patterns cast by the translucent geometric form on the base and the way these will change during the day are particularly important to us as they remind us of the natural Sidra tree providing shade for people to sit, talk and share ideas in the past. The larger lower panels will contain information about the Qatar Foundation on their inner surface. We are thinking that these may be partially transparent to add to the effects of light and shadow and be reminiscent of traditional Islamic Screens.

The geometric pattern we intend to use part of for the base.


Taking forth our initial ideas through sketch and model making, we then embarked on illustrating these forms in 3d using Auto CAD and Google Sketch Up. Taking our designs forward with the Sidra tree concept and simply creating this elegant form proved challenging to say the least. Not only were we creating natural forms but we were trying to do so accurately, using our most recent marquette we show a shape moving not just in one direction but on two different planes.

Starting of with a funnel I planned to elevate this into our more elegant form.

the shape begins to pan out lower than originally thought.

from this shape I then plotted a path similar to the weaved shape of the marquette.

and created from this path a wired frame to illustrate our pattern.

After evaluating this design, although nice from a visual perspective the shape still failed to stick within our 3m squared boundary, this has proved to be a huge problem in our development of the shape.

So I created a shape that curved round the base of the 3 meter squared base. which created this almost apple like structure.

cross section of the shape shows it cronstruction and what is possible for our kiosk.

I then started to dismantle the shape and see what was capable in form, some interesting shapes began to appear.

the lines were taken again like before on the previous model and the potential of another structure was made, this time being supported from the outside.

and finally I have a wire form to potentially create a kiosk from. The only issue here is that I have moved away from the main concept of the three pillars and the Sidra tree. which are vital to our design. which leaves us to go back to the original and some how create a form that stays within the 3M square boundary.

Instead of supporting the structure via a central ‘trunk’ we experimented with supporting the structure along its perimeter at 3 points to represent the 3 pillars.  We had envisioned that people might sit majlis style on the floor and therefore experience the central funnel structure from below. However although this was opening up the central space, there was little room to stand back to read the information displayed unless it was on the exterior, and with the 3m size constraint there was the possibility of the space being too claustrophobic for a public space. We had also lost the image of the Sidra Tree.

We did like the base and the structural form, which is basically an elipse tilted and rotated in two planes, but felt that the tented structure was becoming too lightweight, and didn’t have enough physical presence. After a frustrating week of CAD development we realised that we may have to redesign in a simpler manner, so it was back to the sketch book.

Returning to the form of a three trunked tree, whilst maintaining elements we liked from our CAD experiments resulted in our final design.


  1. vcuqteam7 says:

    Hello guys,

    Great concepts I must say. I particularly like the Sidra tree concept and the flame. I think the concept explanation of the Sidra tree is very impressive. The play of color and light is very interesting. It would be great if you could abstract the Islamic patterns into something a bit more unique or new rather. I would suggest you consider the Sidra tree for further concept development 🙂

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