Gulf | Qatar

Doha mapped through four-dimension application

Interactive display highlights city’s physical growth since pre-oil period

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:41 November 28, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama: A research funded by Qatar Foundation and conducted by architecture professors from Carnegie Mellon allows users to view the Qatari capital Doha in four dimensions — length, width, height and time — via a free Web-based application.

“For the past 60 years, architects from around the world have designed unique, contemporary buildings that reflect the local climate, culture and growth of Doha,” a statement from the university said. “Today, their architectural feats can be explored publicly via a free Web-based application called 4dDoha: Buildings (www.4ddoha.com/collection).”

Created by Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture in Pittsburgh faculty members Kelly Hutzell and Rami Al Samahy and their research team, 4dDoha: Buildings is part of an ongoing research project mapping the urban growth and transformation of Doha. The application they developed is one facet of a larger project called 4dDoha that examines Doha in three-dimensional space as well as time.

“4dDoha addresses these transformations by tracing the physical growth of the city across time through an interactive display that allows users to track a variety of changes through different eras,” Hutzell, an associate teaching professor, said.

The application focuses on the city’s architecture from the pre-oil period of 1947 to its independence in 1971, and through the current expansion.

Hutzell and Al Samahy, who have been teaching architectural courses in Doha during the second semester for the past four years, chose 50 of the most noteworthy buildings to be part of the application. The app was designed for use with an iPad, but can also be viewed through a web browser like Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.

The application includes graphic icons, detailed information and photos of the buildings collected by the researchers. App users can sort the collection by time, location, architecture language or style — vernacular, modern, postmodern or contemporary — and by current status, such as whether it is standing, has been demolished or renovated, or if it is unrealised. Hutzell and Al Samahy said they are always trying, as professors and architects, to practise what they teach. “It is important for architects in this region [the Arabian Gulf] to understand the commonality in architectural elements, as well as the differences,” Al Samahy, an assistant teaching professor and founding partner of the firm over,under, said.

Hutzell and Al Samahy are planning to add more categories to 4dDoha, including master plans, urban elements, and competitions that will round out the narrative of the city’s development. They are reportedly in discussions with institutions in Qatar to exhibit the app in larger venues to wider audiences.

“We had hoped that 4dDoha would serve as a general education tool for the public to know more about the history and the future of Doha,” Hutzell said. “We looked to the past to understand what was involved in designing a contemporary Arab city.”

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