Doha, Qatar: Desert Housing

Master-planning new community housing on the periphery of Doha marks an exciting transition in scale for PAD studio. Collaborating with Allan Murray Design, a renowned urban designer with extensive experience in place-making and master planning, we researched, brainstormed and sought to understand this unique and amazing place.

Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: Qatar, Doha
  • Collaborators: Allan Murray Design
  • Image Credit: Ineffable Tale

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Insulation
    1 2 3
  • Thermal Mass
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Airtightness
    1 2 3 4 5
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Embodied Carbon
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No

Doha is a relatively new and rapidly expanding oil-rich city. Host to the World Cup in 2022 Doha boasts a plethora of buildings by renowned international Architects and sits within the Persian Gulf with its origins in pearling and fishing.

Designing for the desert climate and creating shady spots where the community can gather is of paramount importance in this intense heat. Our concept was driven by the memory of the nearby Wadi and the opportunity to de-salinate water from the Gulf bay using solar energy; a verdant landscaped spine and carpet of rich greenery has pools of cooling water, reminiscent of desert oasis communities. Our villas take cues from the local historic Adobe Houses (tightly grouped houses with internal courtyards) and are placed in clusters around the verdant green spine. This master plan creates a community or connected families within an ecologically rich and tempered desert climate.

At PAD studio we are respectful of people and environments, celebrating history and tradition, diversity and uniqueness. We are mindful of our responsibility to nature and how we impact this on both the sites we work with but also the wider environment. Sustainability is complex and we believe it should be considered from the outset and throughout the building’s lifecycle. We do this automatically in the way we approach design and have a wealth of experience in building award-winning sustainable and beautiful buildings

The green spine is the heart of this community and master plan. It occupies 42 hectares and is a car-free oasis with undulating landforms, reminiscent of gently rippling dunes, running along its length. The spine is heavily planted with native acacias and palms and has a series of interconnected pools and water features that punctuate the oasis planting. Fruit trees and lower herbaceous plants around the villas help to create a biodiverse community within a micro-climate oasis where people and nature can thrive in the harsh desert conditions.

To encourage a safe, healthy, and tranquil environment, car movement is primarily restricted to the road around the development. The leaf-shaped pavilions in the centre of the development house a community facility including a Futsal pitch (five-a-side football) tennis courts, community gym, meeting hall and a swimming complex.

Every home in the master plan contains a cloistered courtyard formed around a natural pool. This pool is filtered by natural plants and assists with cross-ventilation and cooling. Thick walls create thermal mass to even out fluctuations in temperature. A reverse cooling system distributes cold water around the walls and floors creating ‘coolth’ and reducing air-conditioning needs.

Solar gain is carefully controlled through screening to further reduce the need for powered cooling. Solar power generation is key in this sunny climate with a large community solar panel array and centralised battery storage distributing electricity throughout the master plan.