Qatar Integrated Railway

Qatar Integrated Railway

Architect
UNStudio
Location
Doha, Qatar | View Map
Project Year
2012
Category
Train stations
Stories By
UNStudio

Mijksenaar

iGuzzini

Qatar Integrated Railway

UNStudio as Architects

Ben van Berkel / UNStudio designs over 30 stations in the first phase of the Doha Metro Network.


Qatar Rail has appointed UNStudio as the principal architect for the Qatar Integrated Railway Project (QIRP).


The Metro Network, the key component of the QIRP - with phase 1 planned to include around 35 stations and phase 2, around 60 stations - will serve as the backbone of the public transport system in the Greater Doha Area (GDA). The full network is planned to comprise four lines connecting the GDA as well as Al Khor, and Al Wakrah-Mesaieed communities located north and south of Doha respectively.


The goal of the QIRP is to create a service which encourages the use of public transportation as a valid alternative to private transportation for the population of Doha.


Since its appointment UNStudio has developed an 'Architectural Branding Manual', a set of design guidelines, architectural details and material outlines that will assure the spatial quality and clarity of the network. The manual will be used by the appointed D&B contractors to implement and deliver the stations of the first phase.


UNStudio’s design forms a bridge between the past and the future of Qatar, drawing inspiration from the vast regional architectural lexicon, whilst simultaneously representing an effective vision of modernisation and preservation. The design further aims to incorporate and integrate all functional and technical aspects of the stations and network into a coherent architectural expression with a view to making the Qatar Rail Metro Network a world reference in the service provided by public transportation to the users and to the environment.


Ben van Berkel: “The celebration of arriving and departing has always been found in the design of stations. For the QIRP we devised an adaptive parametric system which creates open, light and welcoming interiors for each of the individual stations. Traditional Qatari architectural features are reinterpreted to incorporate new, transformative qualities which capture daylight and direct this into the interiors, creating uplifting and luminous atmospheres.”


Scales of Identity A key concept within the design is one of creating varying scales of identity for the user: network identity, line identity and station identity. Network identity reflects the overall Qatar Rail brand using recurring design elements that will shape the architecture of the stations consistently throughout the network and will offer brand recognition with Doha’s urban fabric.


Line identity is achieved by creating different atmospheres within the stations for the theme of each of the metro lines (Historic line, Coastal line, City line and Education line) through distinct wall and floor treatments, as well as through material applications that orient and guide the travellers through their journey.


Individual station identity is achieved by displaying features positioned at strategic points in different areas of each station. The content of these features is specific to each station and is related to the local context and/or to the line theme. By integrating curated content throughout the stations, the Metro Network will serve as a cultural vehicle for Doha.


Vaulted Spaces Building upon existing elements found in the architecture of the region, in the architectural branding vision, the ‘Vault’ represents a new referential bridge between Qatar’s historic architecture and culture and its future as a beacon of innovation and prosperity.


Drawing inspiration from the arch, expressions of traditional architecture, the lightness of the dhow sail, and the tensile profiles of nomadic tents, the ‘Vaulted Spaces’ design proposes a contemporary approach to the interpretation and morphological implementation of these elements. Through a system of interconnected triangular base forms, the massing of the geometry adapts and transforms to incorporate programmatic functions and to connect interior spaces with exterior urban infrastructure.


Adaptability The scale of the Metro intervention in Doha requires careful planning in order to comply with a strict time schedule and achieve minimum disruption in the urban environment. Flexibility becomes a design and planning objective at all levels of intervention. Using a large catalogue of architectural 'branding' elements, the design proposal represents a flexible new architectural system which can adapt itself to the scalar challenges set within the Metro Network.


Drawing on innovative construction methodologies and materials, the Qatar Rail architectural identity is designed for an efficient organisation of the production and assembly of elements, resulting in an effective construction site and a high level of quality control.


Ben van Berkel: “Through the production of a design manual and with the use of adaptive parametric design, it has been possible for us to create a design with many variants, yet one which maintains a coherent identity throughout all of the stations. In this way, we can combine local contextual differences within an overall identity and parametrically adapt physical factors such as wayfinding, daylight penetration, passenger flows, constructive elements etc. in a complex but extremely disciplined system.”


Oyster Thematerialisation principles are experienced through a duality of a pure, modest exterior versus a rich, illuminated mother of pearl effect interior. The exteriors reference the monolithic strength of old Qatari architecture, while the interior spaces create a radiant effect of movement and fluidity.


The use of this uniquely Qatari ornamentation and material palette assists in dividing the large interior spaces and guiding pedestrians towards the transient spaces. The integrated light lines amplify the experience, function as natural wayfinding elements and contribute to a unique ambience for the Metro Network.


Caravanserai Referencing the notion of Caravanserais - which were inns with enclosed courts that served as gathering and resting places on ancient trade routes - and following in the lineage of historic train palaces, the design generates social interaction and propagates place creation over space creation.


Drawing on this tradition of key reference nodes along a travelling route, a sequence of wall attractors within the transient space of pedestrian flows create moments of diversity, opportunities for calmness and gathering and showcases for local culture and identity.


Urban connectivity


Building a new network from scratch provides the opportunity to create a service which encourages the use of public transportation as a valid and clean alternative to private transportation. In UNStudio’s design spatial clarity and intuitive orientation are key components.


Furthermore, the creation of a strong identity for the network will create instant recognition at busy road intersections and will function as a permanent reminder of the alternative to private transportation.


The extensive coverage of the network will make movement within Doha comfortable and convenient. On the local level, Qatar Rail’s network aims to provide safe passage across busy road intersections that serve not only the metro users but the population at large.


With this mission, Qatar Rail’s Metro Network will have substantial impact on the lives of Doha’s population, providing a convenient and practical service, acting as an educational tool on environmental issues and improving road safety and living standards for the community.

Wayfinding for the Qatar Integrated Railway Project (QIRP)



Mijksenaar as Consultants

The wayfinding project for Qatar Rail has two aims: make the architecture look its best, and allow passengers to navigate the stations with ease.


To ensure natural flows, Mijksenaar provided input and feedback concerning the (floor) plans in a series of workshops with the architect.


Functionality and clarity are paramount in Qatar Rail’s information system. Contrasting colours, typography and graphic style are an integral part of the information system: from outside to inside, from signage to floor plan. This emphasizes the coherence and recognizability of the wayfinding family. The emergency signage is an integral part of the system.


The result is comprehensible and clear. All elements speak the same literal and metaphorical language. This ensures a high degree of recognizability, and ease of use.


The ultimate goal is, of course, to provide future users with a safe and pleasant journey.

Doha Metro

iGuzzini as Lighting

The Qatar government has launched a programme, called “Qatar’s National Vision” which aims to make Qatar a nation that will be able to sustain its own development and guarantee high quality standards to its inhabitants by 2030 according to 4 fundamental pillars of progress: Human, Social, Economic and Environmental. This wide-ranging plan includes the operations of The Qatar Railways Company, which in 2012 launched a competition for an integrated public transport project as a valid and pleasant alternative to private transport. The plan is still being developed and includes 4 metro lines and approximately 100 stations. In 2014 the project presented by UN Studio was named the winner of the competition on account of its successful reinterpretation of traditional regional architecture in a contemporary style. For the lighting design, UN Studio worked together with AG Licht to develop an artificial lighting system that was the most challenging element in the project and required highly innovative technological solutions.

AG licht based its lighting concept on a luminaire that in 2014 had yet to be invented: a light line with variable lengths that would also be able to twist and bend.

To create this luminaire, UN Studio and AG Licht invited lighting manufacturers to develop a solution and build a prototype. This invitation, however, carried no guarantee that the design proposed would necessarily be chosen for the production project and so most of the companies that had been contacted declined the invitation.

iGuzzini, on the other hand, decided to take up the challenge and using innovative materials and solutions it developed a prototype guaranteeing both stability and flexibility that was presented in a mock up installation created at the company. The decisive advantage of the new linear lighting system designed for AG Licht was the fire-resistant material used to create it and in 2017 an order was placed to install it in 29 stations in the metro network.

The luminaire developed by iGuzzini is safe and meets all the requirements of complex architectural projects, like this metro system. The key elements that characterised the product’s development were the use of a flexible and totally fireproof material for all the components in the luminaire and solutions that would make installation extremely simple. The trick was to divide the luminaire into three basic parts: the product’s main body, i.e. the structure that is installed in the ceiling; the light source, i.e. The LED line; and an opal screen. Everything was made with the same type of material.

The various components were supplied in different lengths, including: 20 metres, 5 metres and 50 metres, all of which were perfected through a close working relationship between architects, lighting designers and fitting companies to make installation easier at the work site, and to ensure a sharp and aesthetically satisfying end result by limiting the number of cuts and joints and making the final lighting effect absolutely homogeneous. The electrical parts of the luminaire have a high protection rating of IP 65 even if they are used indoors. In terms of linear extension, iGuzzini’s supply of light lines corresponds to approximately 23 km of lighting. The company’s organisation and its capacity to work together and operate at an international level has brought a number of other strategic benefits to this project, too. The company, for example, supplied the products in exceptionally short time, and worked together with no less than 5 consortiums involved in the “Design & Build” process, using the BIM (Building Information Modeling) method, a collaborative design method that enables information regarding all the various design, architectural, structural, system, energy and management phases to be integrated in a single model, which is then shared on line.

The operations carried out can be grouped into three categories: the central stations, i.e. the hubs between the lines, like the Msheireb station, which is characterised by extremely ample spaces in which numerous users can circulate; other stations with more reduced spaces, like the terminus’s, of which the Al Wakra station is an example and, lastly, the individual stations on the lines, like Al Matar at Qadeem.

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