Tree of life

by Tania Wannenburg
Tree of life


The Qatar National Convention Centre ushers in a new era of architecture – one where form and function come together to create the harmonic symbiosis of sophistication and energy-efficiency.

The modern tendency of embracing minimalism’s clean and organic lines, suggests that architecture is a visual art – modern buildings are increasingly designed to speak for themselves.

A larger-than-life organic structure that resembles the roots of a century-old tree sprawls along the glass facade of the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). The building was designed by a Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki, who mentions that the structure symbolises the Sidrat al-Muntaha, a holy Islamic tree that is believed to symbolise the end of the seventh heaven.

The tree is a beacon of learning and comfort in the desert and a haven for poets and scholars who gathered beneath its branches to share knowledge.

In addition to being the largest convention centre in the Middle-East, the Qatar National Convention Centre was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards before it became popular.

The 3 500m² QNCC boasts a 4 000-seat conference hall and a 2 300-seat theatre, nine exhibition halls and 52 meeting rooms.

The QNCC building is about 32% more efficient than a comparable building in the small emirate, partially thanks to passive solar design and energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems.

The US$720-million energy-efficient project is the first of its kind in the region. It has 3 500m² of its roof area covered in solar panels that contribute about 12,5% of the building’s total electrical consumption. Other resources that contribute to the project’s sustainability include LED lighting, air-volume systems, carbon dioxide monitors, occupancy sensors and water-efficient fixtures.

“The QNCC offers a place where the world’s best minds can come together.” – Ali Nasser M N Al Khalifa, chief executive officer of Astad Project Management.

Visitors enter the building through a large reception hall that spans both the full width and height of the building. Steel-clad staircases beyond lead to floors both above and below the ground, and are flanked by a wall of colourful tessellated shapes.

A spectacular representation of modern functional architecture, the QNCC seeks a superior sense of use and a finer sense of form, all of which is perfectly expressed in the building’s magnificent organic lines and its ability to bring its surroundings to life.

A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is designed and in the end must be immeasurable.

Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art, and the QNCC is in any sense an awe-inspiring work of architectural art.

Facts and figures

Campus size: 1 011 hectares
Cost: QR4,2 billion
Centre size: 1 157 500m²
Exhibition space: 430 000m²
Solar array: 3 500m²
Architect: Arata Isozaki, Japan
Project management: Astad Project Management

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.wise-qatar.com for the information given to write this article.



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