Landezine
International
Landscape
Award
Hotel Park, Doha, Qatar

Hotel Park, located in the West Bay downtown area of Doha, is one of the largest decked gardens in the world. The park conceals a four-storey basement parking facility below and provides a strategic public realm link between the waterfront, the landmark Sheraton Hotel, the corniche and the city’s financial district, making it a focal point for social interaction in the wider West Bay district.

At over 7ha, the park curates a varied and flowing combination of stepped water features, paddle-friendly pools, play areas, restaurant plazas, oasis gardens and picnic lawns for relaxation and exercise. The park embraces playfulness at its core, providing a place that caters for families and diverse age groups.

The design philosophy from the very start was to create a space that responds to the challenging environmental conditions, supports healthy lifestyles and creates a flexible legacy space to inform the quality of future public realm design in the city.

The design commission was for a multidisciplinary team to develop the project from concept through to construction. Our team comprised Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Lighting, Structural Engineering, Façade and Fire Engineering. The landscape architects role in defining the park experience was at the centre of this complicated, multidisciplinary project. Understanding the complexity of the building structure, levels, void formers, loading, drainage requirements and utility infrastructure and how it translated to the landscape design was critical.

The landscape design was developed around the creation of a series of diverse and vibrant pleasure gardens, each having a distinctive character and programme. A strong angular geometry responds to the modern city backdrop and references local cultural forms. This spatial and geometric framework defines a series of open landscaped areas with recreational functions throughout the day and year, from informal recreation and activities to programmed events and festivals.

The park is an oasis in the city, creating the experience of a verdant environment and place of respite. Using changes in level, green screens, planting and subtle changes in topography, users are immersed in the space. Water features are a key component of the design and are used in strategic locations in the park. They are designed to be attractive and playful features as well as to provide cooler microclimate and create a dynamic acoustic environment.

Our client, a major international property development company, recognised the opportunity for this project to deliver a unique space at the heart of the financial district and demonstrate a step change in the approach to public realm delivery in the city. The park facilitates the integration of the parking structure whilst enhancing the connectivity to the waterfront in an area where public realm provision is quite often limited or disconnected. The project addresses numerous challenges faced by the landscape profession such as sustainable use of water in arid climates, encouraging healthier lifestyles through considered provision of recreational facilities and integration of major infrastructure without deteriorating environmental quality. The secret of this project is its approach to promoting social sustainability through cultural interaction, flexibility of space and promotion of the park as a family space. The park creates life and inclusivity in this part of the city.

Hotel Park truly comes alive at night, the lighting design concept was inspired by the motif of a night-time festival against the vibrant and glowing skyline backdrop of West Bay. The lighting is subtle and picks up the detail of level changes, sculptural forms, tree canopies and moving water to enhance the visitors’ experience of the park at night.

The park integrates two main innovations that are embedded within the design. The first is a space which promotes play without any barriers. Traditional parks in the region are often quite sterile in terms of function and strict user rules apply whereas we have integrated play areas, water features, level changes, dramatic planting, picnic areas, café terraces and gathering spaces which encourage people to explore, dwell and have fun.

Secondly, the park utilises water and soft landscape treatments in numerous ways to engage with the users and make the park come alive throughout the day. Together, the park’s five main water features and planted sculptural landforms achieve something incredibly appealing in the heat of Qatar. The clusters and avenues of trees and palms create shade and a micro-climate that can be up to 10 degrees cooler than areas without trees. It makes for a more enjoyable, Mediterranean temperature, and is further proof that green infrastructure and landscape can improve the liveability and sustainability of a city

Sustainability strategies were developed throughout the design stage of the project, and these included:

• Use of recycled water (TE) for irrigation of soft landscape areas and for water features.
• Promotion of a comfortable walking and dwelling environment using shade planting, shelters, green screens, cooling water features and brise soleil.
• Creation of a unique high-quality public spaces for the West Bay district which had very limited public space provision.
• Local sourcing of materials and selection of high durability products to minimise maintenance requirements.
• Use of drought tolerant plant species to reduce irrigation demand.
• Use of native plant species to support local fauna.
• Integration of flood capacity to deal with high volume seasonal deluges including bio swales.
• Low energy demand LED lighting throughout.
• A fully programmable and flexible space that can accommodate a wide range of formal and informal activities, festivals and events throughout the year.
• Integrated play, gym and interactive water features.
• Integrated restaurants and café offering food and beverage, local employment and interpretation.

Understanding the complexity of the building structure, levels, void formers, loading, drainage requirements and utility infrastructure and how it translated to the landscape design was critical. Building Information Modelling (BIM) was a fundamental tool in this design coordination process allowing all work streams to quickly undertake clash detections and resolve complex engineering interfaces. It also played a key role in the design and integration of smaller site elements such as play equipment, shade structure and street furniture.

Hotel Park has provided a new benchmark for people orientated space in Doha and demonstrates the essential role that high quality and well-designed public realm space plays in the city. The rapid development of cities in the Gulf has historical focused on infrastructure provision as a key performance indicator and sign of prestige whereas the attention is now very much concerned with making places more liveable, environmentally conscious and resilient which the park champions.

Name of the project: Hotel Park, Doha, Qatar (Formerly known as Sheraton Park)
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Ghesa – Water Feature, Design and Irritech Ltd – Irrigation Design
Project location – Hotel Park, Al Corniche Street, West Bay, Doha
Design year: 2011-2015
Year Built: Opened mid 2016

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