Located at the edge of Doha, the site for Qatar’s Cultural & Sports Hub is mostly vacant with very little development currently. The site is one of the locations of the 2022 World Cup and also planned as an Olympic venue as part of Qatar's bid for an Olympic Games. It is strategically located right outside the New Hamad International Airport, making QSCH a threshold between Qatar and the rest of the world. As a major transfer hub in the region, QSCH faces the unique opportunity to cater to world travelers; passengers with long layover times will have the possibility to jump on public transport and visit the attractions contained within QCSH. It will not only appeal to the local population, but has the potential to attract foreign visitors and even entice transfer passengers to stay in Doha. A first challenge of the project was to plan for all the routes and interchanges leading to the site that result from a planned people mover system consisting of the new Doha Metro, a tram, a cable car, a rail station, shuttle bus routes, water taxis, the cycle network and pedestrian routes, all requiring wayfinding and signage.
At 740ha the QCSH site represents a new piece of the city incorporating a redevelopment of the Old Port, an Amusement Park, a FIFA stadium and surrounding Olympic Avenue, an extension of the walkable Corniche and an Olympic rowing and training lake. In order to stitch together these disparate spaces and programmes, Spaceagency's solution was to propose a continuous band of information that weaves through the entire site, linking them perceptually into a single place. While the band adapts locally to the architectural and geographical character of the precincts, it still maintains a coherent identity, acting as a beacon of information to inform the visitor's journey.
Building a Design Language
To create a coherent identity, a set of graphic and formal building blocks were designed which together form a recognisable visual language. The references for these elements were derived from the place itself and its intended use. The arabic language and local architectural expression was studied, in order to derive a language which would have meaning in its context. Each precinct was identified by a different pattern related to its use, which all fit into a hexagonal geometric base grid so they can easily morph between precincts. A modern, rounded arabic typeface was selected to communicate the sportive character of the site, and from the ligatures of letters, a set of symbols and pictograms were designed.
The Old Port
The band of information serves a series of informational purposes: wayfinding, providing directional guidance, identifying destinations, leading visitors in new directions, linking programmes and places. Each precinct contains certain base uses in addition to overlay programmes during the upcoming 'Event' and 'Super Event' modes. At the Old Port, OMA's design converts a container shipping port into an arts precinct with live-work studios and galleries. Using the shipping container form as inspiration, a series of wayfinding and informational elements have been designed which guide, inform, exhibit and frame the environment.
As an extension of the popular, walkable Corniche in Doha, the Southern Corniche is the connective space between the Old Port and the sports and amusement precincts. The Corniche is designed as a boardwalk. Here the wayfinding band weaves up and down to create signage, seating and planters along the pedestrian and cyclists route.
Salt Lake Valley
A rowing lake is to be constructed on the site of the old Doha International Airport, provided Olympic compliant rowing facilities in for the Middle East. In order to meet the water temperature standards for an Olympic lake, water will be pumped in from 5km out in the Gulf. The spoil of the lakes construction creates sand dune mounds where BMX cycling coexists with a new residential lakefront district. To counteract the great expanses of space and variable visibility due to the dunes, the wayfinding here is scaled up to become beacons within the public space.
People Mover System Wayfinding and Signage
A variety of transportation modes are planned to work as a comprehensive people mover system at QCSH. Each is coded with a distinct colour and large recognisable icon. Signage has been designed to integrate completely into the architecture, at once both highly visible and unified as a coherent system, where information can be found consistently in same locations for each mode.