Urban Fabric of Old Doha
Mapping Old Doha
‘Mapping Old Doha’ is a project to record the old urban fabric in and around the capital, in a consistent and comprehensive manner. The heritage assets are mainly embodied by traditional buildings from the first half of the 20th century, though representative early modern buildings (mid-1950s to 1970s) are also documented.
Mapping is a recording tool carried out through surveys. Data are gathered on the ground in a systematic, uniform manner according to specific criteria concerning building type, use and structural condition, as well as interior features and decorative elements.
The recorded data are entered in a GIS-based database and provide information about the extent of each heritage building within the urban context, its social value, function and its relationship with other buildings. It has already provided initial results in terms of establishing a framework for informed decision-making regarding the interpretation, conservation and rehabilitation and management of heritage assets in old Doha.
Old Doha Rescue Excavation
As one of the world's fastest growing cities, major infrastructure projects are being developed to fulfil the needs of a modern capital city. Doha Metro, a major rail network to be built across Doha, is one of those. It will connect different areas of the city by four main lines. One of the stations assigned by Qatar Rail covers an area at the very heart of where the city of Doha was founded, around 200 years ago.
Our archaeologists excavated in this area for a period of 4 months. We worked with the Origins of Doha Project team of UCL Qatar for part of this work, who helped us to document the evidence of Old Doha and rescue the artefacts found before the area was destructed.
Architectural remains from different periods were recovered, from the early 19th century until modern times, within a depth of 2 meters of still preserved occupation deposits. Rooms with different structures, courtyards and alleys, as well as animal bones, keys, padlocks and bangles, a large amount of coins, and imported pottery from other Gulf countries and porcelain from China and Europe. Diving weights used by pearl divers were among the finds, including a rare and particular metal weight, probably used by pearl merchants, telling us how important pearl fishing was at that time.
Doha’s Old Palace
Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani’s Old Palace was originally built in the early 20thcentury. The palace was at the centre of Qatar’s political leadership for approximately 25 years, serving as residence of the Royal Family and the seat of government.
The palace was converted into the National Museum of Qatar in 1975, which included a Museum of the State, lagoon and marine aquarium. The building won the Agha Khan award for restoration and rehabilitation of Islamic architecture in 1980. Although now closed, the Old Palace is under restoration again and will be at the heart of the new National Museum of Qatar.
Through its restoration we aim to set a new standard for the treatment of historic buildings and architectural conservation, both in Qatar and across the region.
It’s an ongoing joint-project between QM and Ziegert Roswag Seiler Architekten Ingenieure (ZRS), restoring the palace to its original fabric, using new elements where structurally necessary but without the use of air conditioning. The building will be a living gallery exhibiting a way of Qatari life of days gone by. In the past the Palace has been restored, complemented and refurbished a number of times; all of these layers facilitate the story of it's rich history.