Doha Corniche, Doha, Qatar

Location: Doha, Qatar
Client: The State of Qatar, National Council for Art and Heritage
Architect: Brune Jatsch Partners, Massie Architecture
Size: 4.5 miles
Status: Competition 2003 (2. prize)

The Government of Qatar, advised by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, invited Martha Schwartz Partners and seven other internationally–known firms of urban designers, planners, landscape architects, and architects to participate in a limited competition for the regeneration and master planning of the Doha Corniche — a 7.5 kilometer (4.7 mls) crescent–shaped, eight–lane highway and belt of prestigious administrative, cultural, and commercial facilities and parks along Doha Bay. The competition’s stated intention was to “enhance the quality of urban living along the Corniche and to provide an international cultural and arts identity through innovative, culturally appropriate and environmentally sensitive urban planning and landscaping, highlighted by selected landmark projects of international significance.”

The White Necklace, MSP’s unified Master Plan for the Corniche, establishes four concentric crescents (the “C”s) at the water’s edge including: the modulated, pedestrian–friendly Corniche Road; the trellised (“White Necklace”) seaside Promenade and activity zone; the regenerated wetland and intertidal Eco–zone; and the sparsely programmed floating Boardwalk, which also supports water–taxi service throughout the bay.

The “C”s link the eight major urban competition sites and are further defined by the strong, centrally–situated cross axis created by a new Central Park — future home to the proposed Parliament building — and the newly created Pleasure Islands stretching across Doha Bay into open water.

MSP also created detailed urban and landscape designs for a number of designated competition sites including the Mangrove Park and the Museum Park. The Mangrove Park is the culmination and end of both the Promenade and the Boardwalk. The Museum Park is a fantasy world for families and visitors alike comprised of floating carpets of gardens, boardwalks, greenhouses, aviaries, sculpture gardens, butterfly houses, “chill–out” lounges, picnic areas, fountains, and myriad other activities.

All these pieces are woven together by a grid of boardwalks varying in width, texture, and design. Within them, the mangrove gardens of the Museum Gardens recall the Mangrove Park that ends the Boardwalk in the north. Here, however, instead of being the subject of the park experience as in the Mangrove Park, the mangroves become the background and frame for a cultural expression of the landscape in which the intimate spaces created by the mangroves provide shade, softness, and relief to the rigor of the grid.

Doha’s new Museum of Islamic Arts sits at the edge of this park, poking through the garden wall, creating a significant end–point and destination to the inner “C” of the Boardwalk. It becomes the first of the floating islands and establishes the concept for the rest of the Museum Garden.