The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is situated in ‘Education City,’ not far from the skyscrapers of the modern business centre in Doha, the capital of the oil-rich state of Qatar. The remarkable design icon is located on the enormous campus among faculties of some of the world’s best universities, such as Weill Cornell, Texas A&M, and Georgetown, as well as research and technology institutes like the Sidra Medical and Research Center, and Qatar Science & Technology Park. This is the home of Qatar’s ambitious future plans, including the knowledge-based economy: here, oil and gas must make way for science and education; for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.
The architectural firm Arata Isozaki & Associates was given of a total area of 200.000 square metres to use. The firm produced three buildings: the convention centre, the exhibition centre, and the multi-storey car park. The striking four-storey main building has a truly spectacular entrance. The two 250-meter long, curved steel Sidra tree structures supporting the roof are incredible eye-catchers. But that is not all. The Sidra tree was not chosen by chance. The tree is an icon in the Qatari culture. It has its origins as a beacon in the desert and is used by the Bedouin as a meeting place and shelter.
SYMBOLIC MEETING PLACE
The architects instantly set the tone with this symbolism: the convention centre is a meeting place. Outside the building, people can share knowledge and stories in the shade beneath the trees; inside, the visitor is invited into the conference center where everything is large, high, and transparent. A sense of spaciousness is given by ensuring the incidence of lots of daylight. Through the use of Reynaers’ slim CW 50 system, the extended curtain wall can let in the maximum amount of light.
However, visitors do not feel lost or insignificant, partly because of the furniture selection and the carefully placed lounge settings which allows visitors to engage comfortably. The fact that visitors have a sense of being part of a large entity has been made possible by the architect through creating the opportunity to divide and arrange spaces flexibly, by means of movable ceilings.
The main building is connected by means of two interlinked oval volumes. The car park has space for more than three thousand cars and forty buses. On the other side, the architect produced a multifunctional exhibition hall with a total of 40.000 square metres of space. It is a hall that can accommodate scientists invited for a seminar, or international visitors attending the United Nations climate change conference, one of the world’s largest ever conferences (with 17.000 delegates who attended this event). This instantly put the brand-new QNCC on the world map in the fields of logistics (the smooth movement of large groups of people) and technology (with audio-visual, acoustic, and high-tech tours de force concealed in mobile ceilings with lamps that open and close as a finishing touch).
The QNCC also features a theatre with 2300 plush seats and the stage, which is characterised by warm colours and luxurious materials. There are also three auditoriums, 52 smaller meeting rooms, a room for gala events and other activities, six luxurious VIP lounges with five star catering, and seven hospitality suites. These facilities make QNCC one of the most sophisticated, most flexible, and largest convention centres in the Middle East.
LIGHT AND GREEN
Reynaers’ efforts in the project have been considerable. It supplied the solutions required to allow the construction of the transparent extended glass façade of the exhibition centre with a span of at least sixteen meters without additional support. The façade with aluminium and steel features stainless steel covers on the inside and is reinforced with OS façades measuring 650 millimetres in depth and covering 5500 square metres.
QNCC was built with a focus on sustainability. The ‘green’ building was built in accordance with the ‘US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design’ (LEED) gold certification standard. Through the application of innovative solutions for matters such as economical water and energy consumption, the building is at least 32 percent more efficient than comparable buildings that do not make use of these technological innovations. One of these innovations is the use of 3500 square metres of solar panels, providing more than twelve percent of the energy used within the centre. Energy-efficient LED lighting is also used in the exhibition halls.
In the future, a railway station will connect Doha’s business centre with Education City, and more car parks and luxury hotels will be built. These measures will make the QNCC more accessible to even more people.
Architects: Arata Isozaki
Location: Doha, Qatar
Photographer: Waleed AlAbbas
Other partners: Baytur Insaat Tahhut A.S. (General Contractors)Victor Buyck Steel Construction Sdn. Bhd. (General Contractors)Eversendai Engineering Qatar W.L.L. (General Contractors)Midmac-Six Construct (General Contractors)MAN Enterprise (General Contractors)Qatar Petroleum (Project developers)KEO International Consultants (Construction managers)ASTAD (Construction managers)ASTAD (Project managers)Halcrow Yolles/RHWL (Executive architects)Burns and McDonnell Inc (Executive architects)WS Atkins and Partners (Executive architects)
Used systems: Aluminium Windows: CS 68 | Aluminium Curtain Walls: CW 50