Sustainable Flexibility

Qatar National Convention Centre

  • Education City
  • 2011

CHALLENGE. The Qatar National Convention Centre, funded by the Qatar Foundation, is a convention and exhibition center in the heart of Education City, a 14 square kilometer city on the outskirts of Doha that houses educational facilities from school age to research level, along with a teaching hospital, media outlets and an equestrian academy.

Populous was selected, in partnership with Burns and McDonnell, to develop stage 2 of the Qatar National Convention Centre. The challenges were numerous – from designing a facility that would blend seamlessly with the convention center stage one building, to dealing with significant site constraints and accommodating public transportation in the tightest timeframe the convention center group had seen yet, the project required creative thinking.

INNOVATION. Serving as the centerpiece of Education City, the convention center set a new bar for high performance buildings, particularly in Qatar’s rapidly evolving culture and unique climate. The building needed to interface with the existing portion of the convention center under construction, while serving as the metaphorical front door for this growing part of the city. Inspiration for the design was derived from local geological and ecological influences including the Sidra Tree concept used for the Stage 1 building – utilizing translucent “Sidra Leaves” to create an ethereal shade canopy floating beneath a skylight providing diffused natural light in the building’s foyer.

The design of the convention center was largely motivated by a sustainable, high-performance approach that would result in a facility that was smart, hyper-functional and in turn, sustainable. These features include an electronically controlled operable rigging grid comprising the entire ceiling of the exhibition hall, allowing the spaces to be adjusted quickly and with ease, as well as controllable skylights allowing daylight when desired and blackout conditions when needed. The Exhibition Hall Concourse uses both direct and indirect natural light to create an elegant circulation corridor that provides access to the building’s 7 exhibition halls. In addition, high-performance elements were incorporated throughout by utilizing electronically controlled vertical folding walls, providing an immense solar panel array on the roof of the building, and developing new L.E.D. lighting fixtures to provide the variety of lighting levels required for conventions and exhibitions while maintaining stringent energy reduction measures. Sustainable elements, coupled with state of the art touch-screen technology in all meeting and exhibition spaces, unique breakout meeting areas and direct access to the building from a light rail station, has resulted in an iconic, unconventional and accessible space to host international events.

IMPACT. Since opening in 2011, the Qatar National Convention Centre has come to host some of the largest and most prestigious conferences in the world. Regarded internationally as one of the most successful exhibition centers in the world, the venue is also one of the most sustainable. In 2012, it was awarded LEED Gold Certification for the designers’ innovative approach to sustainability.