Spanish-Kuwaiti firm AGi architects has been awarded second prize in a competition to design a new courthouse in Qatar’s capital, Doha. The restricted competition, organized by the Government of Qatar, challenged 30 participants, of which four were shortlisted to compete in the final round.
AGi’s proposal was based off of two grids - the immediate site’s and the larger city - resulting in a “floating,” canopy-like structure that metaphorical “protects” its inhabitants. View the complete proposal, after the break.
From the architects: Institutional buildings need to embody the ideals and value system of any given society, with order being one of the core principles of any group. No society can prosper and thrive without it. Order is structure, it is the law, it is justice; without it, there is chaos. It is therefore extremely important that the Qatar Courthouse be aspirational and reflects these basic principles.
The building is designed on two basic grids that are site driven, one linking it to its immediate context and the second to the larger context of Doha. These grids create stunning structural and spatial possibilities that make the building stand out visually so that people can see their ideals reflected in built form -structure, order, transparency, ambition -all of which are the ideals of Qatar’s growing society.
One of the fundamental questions for a civic structure is how is it approached and how is it perceived? The project brief contained a dense program that would occupy only 40% of the site, which would yield a type of vertical structure. This verticality however in the context of modern day Doha does not read as institutional. We sought to expand the ground plane across the entirety of the site, creating a public plaza and in doing so altering the proportion of the building.
Floating above the plaza is the main structure carrying the central courtrooms, signifying that the law is above everyone. These subtle gestures ensure that the plaza act as a threshold between society at large and the justice system, making the Qatar Court House an open and welcoming building, rather than an ominous, insular one. At this scale, the floating structure acts as a literal and figurative canopy: it offers protection from the elements and a place where one can seek refuge from the greater population. The geometry of the floating structure ensures that there is ample light that fills the plaza, making the building feel lighter. At night, this very interplay between the volumes themselves makes the building visually striking.
Design TeamJoaquín Pérez-Goicoechea, Nasser B. Abulhasan
Architectural TeamJusto Ruiz, Daniel Muñoz, Álvaro Granero, Ana Palencia, Cristina Ruiz, Nicolás Martín, Aisha Alsager, Hessa Albader
ClientGovernment of Qatar
PhotographsPoliedro Estudio, AGi architects
PhotographsPoliedro Estudio, Courtesy of AGi Architects