Name of the Student
Name of the Lecturer
Proposed Dissertation Title: Contemporary Translation of Traditional Architecture in the Middle East
Section 1: Research Theme, Questions and Conceptual Framework
The research theme and questions as well as conceptual framework are discussed in this Section . The section starts with conceptual framework, followed by research theme and finally research questions. The aim of this study is also indicated in this part of the paper. They are deliberated upon as follows.
Quick urbanization and technological advances have led to built environments being standardized, and in the process grudging human habitats of regional and cultural identity since the standardization trend is evolving as an international depression as the same building methods, styles and materials are applied. The building art is perpetually high on the agenda of many of the symposia, conferences, and community meetings who search for concepts and methods that lead to better and more impartial cities. Recently, world cities (global cities) and the concept of globalization have become key aspects of architects, social scientists, and economic geographers who observe, experience, and describe the insightful changes that new technologies impart on global economic and spatial development. Planners soon follow the academic concern and try in exploring means and ways of promoting cities while architects analyze and criticize the local and regional negative impacts of such globalization (Adam 76).
Middle East and especially Doha, the capital of Qatar, keeps on positioning itself on the international architecture and urbanism map with diverse expressions of its distinctive qualities with respect to the economy, culture, environment, and global outlook. In many aspects, the city is depicted as a significant emerging worldwide capital in the Gulf region coupled with rigorous processes of urban development (Awan 127). In this essay, I present an account of contemporary architecture of Doha resembling a drama conducted in a theater while performers involve in the scenes exhibit the local public and the global spectators.
Traditionally, Doha was a pearl diving and fishing town. Currently, the capital houses more than 90% of the 1.7 million country’s people, with above 80% being professional expatriates from other nations (Mohammad, 98). Until the mid of 1960s, most of the buildings were traditional houses which are individually owned and presented local responses to the adjacent physical and socio-cultural circumstances. During the 1970s Doha was changed into a modernized city. Conversely, during the 1980s and early 1990s the process of development was slow as compared to the previous period as a result of either the overall political ambiance and the first Gulf war or the grave reliance of the nation on the resources and economy of bordering countries (Bianca 180).
The Doha’s architecture may be metaphorically taken as a drama allegory. The term drama may be defined as any condition or sequences of events with stunning, conflicting, poignant or prominent outcomes or interests. Drama is a narrative which is performed by actors before an audience and engrosses a collaborative mode of production as well as a collection of reception. This is synonymous with the architecture of Doha. The drama in itself is the narrative at the rear of the public face of the buildings. The actors majorly are the international architects working for or with client organizations whereby representing different cultural positions and interests. There is a mixed audience and is symbolized by an average citizen, local community, expatriate professional, tourist visitor, and even the global world. Thus the Doha’s architecture includes cultural politics, which is an important element.
Qatar is an Arab country and part of Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) hence has a strong connection of religious and cultural ties with the Mediterranean countries. This therefore means that, there is an amalgamation of influences that can be witnessed in the cultural politics models. There is also a “Pan- Arabism” influence, a secular Arab ideology which constitutes a country of different societies bound together with a common cultural, linguistic, and religious historical heritage (Bianca 179). Moreover, there is an indirect “Islamism” influence offering ideology and largely displaces “Pan – Arabism” and is also seen emanating from the Contemporary Persia (Mohammad, 100). These cultural politics have a bearing on the nature of architecture and urbanism adopted by Doha hence various building styles.
The study will be guided by the following research questions:
How is the relation between the phenomenon of drama allegory on Doha’s architecture and urbanization?
What is the influence of other oversea architects on Doha’s architecture and urbanization?
How the theatrical nature of Doha is commensurate to its building structures?
Aim of Work
The main aim of the research is to investigate the influence of cultural politics on the building structures adopted by Doha.
Section 2: Resources
Theater is defined as a type of art which is collaborative in nature coupled with live performance of the experience of a real or imagined even or incident before the audience. Normally, the performers communicate the experience to the audience by different means inclusive of songs, speeches, dancing, music and gestures. In the narrative of the architecture and urbanism of Doha, it is clear that performers put across a real event to the audience (public) via architecture. This is explained under the following structures.
Scene 1: Souq Waqif
The reconstruction or remanufacturing of Souq Waqif is a vital scene representing the aspiration of conserving the past periods of a nation. The literal translation of this area is known as “The Standing Market,” and has existed in the past two hundred years (Mohammad 90). It contains various types of sub-markets for retail and wholesale traders and with buildings typified by high walls, wooden portals, small windows, and air stalls that are opened. With the initiative of the Private Engineering Office, the building has acquired a new grand image by reinstating it to its original situation (Burd 131). Moreover, the incorporation of traditional restaurants and cafes, art galleries, local concerts, and cultural events has attracted visitors and city residents.
Scene 2: Msheireb Project
This scene is meant for urban regeneration and reinterpretation of conventional architecture with its master plan developed by EDAW – AECOM planning and design (Chris 42). The scene was developed with the aim of bringing Qatari families back into the center of the city and at the same time restoring the community sense (Robson 68). Remarkably, in an attempt to balance worldwide contemporary aspirations as well as the reinterpretations obtained from traditional environments, the master plan project endeavors to recount visual and spatial language issues in an integrated manner
Scene 3: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
In a typical museum scene, the correlation between the buildings from inside and outside the spectacles seems to be quite paradoxical. Dedicated to reflect the full vigor, municipality and complexity of the Islamic world’s arts, the MIA preserves, collects, exhibits, and studies masterpieces spanning in three continents (Africa, Europe and Asia) (Forty 68). The Museum resulted from a journey of discovery which was conducted by Pei whom had the quest of understanding the Islamic architecture diversity hence his world tour (Hillier 25; Saqaaf 6). The museum has two cream-colored limestone buildings, a two-story Education Wing, and a five-story main building connected by a central courtyard (Saqaaf 6). The angular volumes of main building step back as they climb up around a five story high doomed atrium, reflect and capture patterned light in the dimensioned dome.
Scene 4: The West Bay Business District
This emerging business district is a building with multiple competitors. It is a new developed essential hub. This scene promotes new lifestyles, work, urban image, and a spectacular skyline (Frampton 37; Mohammad 90). The West Bay Business District is a high solidity development that consists of high costly glass towers. Though it has generated a spectacular image of becoming a typical of the city, personal buildings are in competition in positioning themselves in the skyline front and offering a striking departure from classic designs of urban high towers. Some notable three major competitors to this building include the Al Bidaa Tower with a persistent twisting form as well as a rotating floor plan with multi-dimension curtain wall reflecting sunlight throughout the day and artificial internal light during the night (Rose 121). The second scene is Burj Qatar which is a 45 storey office tower with which its appearance is textured from a distance giving the building a more fragile traditional Islamic pattern in a closer proximity. Lastly, the third scene is the Tornado Tower with a dramatic external lightening scheme created by Thomas Emde. This spectacular system is able to display a total of 35,000 different light combinations.
Scene 5: The Education City
This unique scene is believed to be the first pattern globally where various international architects have worked contributing their theories and ideas through practices of creating learning, research, and nurturing environments. The overall appearance of the building indicates a masterful integration of skillful use of tone values and color as well as incorporation of solid geometry and this proposes a dialogue between modernity and tradition (Simone 410). As an architecturally dazzling intervention and visually striking, the building was designed using a theme developed by conventional Arabic mosaics which are evocative as they are made of crystalline sand structure (Saqaaf 6).
Section 6: The Pearl Development
The scene was developed by United Development Company and covers an area of 4 million square kilometers and 32km towards the coast (Vassigh 112). Different hybrid and eclectic styles of European and regional architecture are used in introducing a distinguishing image within the development. The building has new lifestyle scenes such as luxury apartments, penthouses, town homes, five star hotels, villas, restaurants, and entertainment (Saqaaf 6).
Section 3: Data Gathering Method
It is of great significance that any theoretical tool should improve the understanding of problems that are inherent in the historiography of Middle East architectural needs in enquiring into the historically and socially established institutional framework while sustaining the activity of discourse (May 34). Moreover, the tool should broaden to the active facet, that is, to the scheme of agents of the discourse production (Correa 330). The cultural production agents (discourse) are fascinated agents who constitute their personified histories via the intervention of comparatively autonomous dispositions (Lury & Wakeford 38; Groat 110). Such a two-fold study of cultural production in a societal environment is of great importance (Bourdieu 64).
This study will use participant observation as a method of data collection. Participant observation is defined as the methodical description of behaviors, events, and artifacts in the social environment chosen for study purposes (Marshall & Rossman 79). Making observations allow the researcher to give a description of existing conditions by the use of five senses thereby giving a “written photograph” of the condition under study. The process of participant observation enables a researcher to learn concerning the people’s activities under study in their natural setting by observing and even being involved in those activities.
Therefore, the study will use the subjectivism and objectivism analyses modes. Subjectivism also known as phenomenological analysis is geared towards understanding the social world by the primary experience as well as perceptions of individuals (Bourdieu 66). Objectivism on the other hand engages one in an objective and systematic understanding of social structures which inform practice with no consideration on a personal human agency and consciousness (Groat 110). Since the social life is objectively conditioned and grounded and also objective conditions influence behavior extensively through the intervention of individual beliefs, experiences, and dispositions, the Bourdieu approach intrinsically considers the double dimension of social reality as the bedrock of understanding social structures.
Section 5: Time-Table
Activity/Month November December
Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4 Week1 Week2 Week3 Week4
Acquiring of resources (secondary information)
Gathering of Data
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Awan, Noton., Schneider, Ted & Till, Juyan. Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture, London: Routledge, 2011, 125-150.
Bianca, Sylvester. Urban Form in the Arab World: Past and Present. London: Thames and Hudson, pp. 137, 175-234, 2000.
Bourdieu. The Field of Cultural Production, 29-73, 1999.
Burd, Guardian. The Search for Natural Regional Space to Claim and Name Built Urban Place. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 25 (2):130-144, 2008.
Chris, Ryo. Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design. Oslo, Norway: Oslo School of Architecture, p. 42, 2006.
Correa, Charles. Programs and Priorities. Architectural Review: 329-331, 1971.
Forty, Annyer. Word and Buildings: a Vocabulary of Modern Architecture, London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.
Frampton, Kegler. Studies in Tectonic Culture: the Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century Architecture, London: MIT, 2001.
Groat, Lyon., & Wang, Dyer. Architectural Research Methods, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.
Hillier, Bill. Space is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Lury, Cyril. & Wakeford, Nerbert. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge, 2012.
Marshall, Catherine & Rossman, Gretchen B. Designing Qualitative Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage,1995.
May, Tyson. Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process, London: Open University Press, 1997.
Mohammad, Al-Asad. Contemporary Architecture and Urbanization in the Middle East. USA: University Press of Florida, 2012
Robson, Collin. How to do a Research Project: A guide for Undergraduate Students, Oxford: Blackwell. 2007.
Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, London: Sage, 2001.
Saqaaf, Aliney. The Middle East City: Ancient Traditions confront a Modern World. New York: Paragon House Publishers, p. 6, 1986.
Simone, Armstrong. People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg Public Culture 16, 3: pp. 407-442, 2004.
Vassigh, Swart. A Digital Pedagogy for Learning Structures. Journal of Architectural Design, 74(1):112, 2004.