Evolving cultural aspirations and architectural identity in an emerging regional metropolis

Salama, Ashraf M (2010) Evolving cultural aspirations and architectural identity in an emerging regional metropolis. In: Lincoln Conference 2010: The Cultural Role of Architecture, 2010-06-23 - 2010-06-25.

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From a Bedouin culture to pearl economy and later to oil and gas industries, an emerging regional metropolis in the Gulf region is clearly on the rise. Doha, the capital of Qatar keeps positioning and re-positioning itself on the map of international architecture with different degrees of expressions of its unique qualities in terms of economy, environment, culture, and global outlook. These expressions can be seen as cultural aspirations reflected on the public face of architecture. While the pace of development puts the city among those described as instance cities, it is seen as a city with the highest global connectivity. The government is supporting high profile institutional and cultural building projects, the majority of which are designed by name international firms and star architects. Despite the demerits inherited in any swift urban development process and the resulting global architecture, expressions of identity and the creation of responsive environments are observed. In this paper, I select some of these aspirations that can be seen as conscious endeavors of relating an exclusive local context to the global world. The paper involves an investigation into the evolutionary process of urbanity in Doha, classified in recent writings as urbanity of transition, necessity, modernization, stagnation, and globalization, and how such a process influenced the architectural identity of Doha. A city selected a capital of Arab culture, and within the examples discussed, polemics on identity within tradition and modernity are developed to advance the discourse on the cultural role of architecture.