The Seef Lusail Master Plan has been conceived as a waterfront urban concept that seeks to transform the attitude of the local people towards city living and to reprise the character of traditional Qatari coastal towns that are intimate in scale, walkable, and oriented to the sea for livelihoods and recreation.
Seef Lusail is a departure from downtown Doha that has been structured to be car-reliant in a city that is difficult to negotiate on foot. While current public open spaces are extensive, these tend to be disconnected, vast and water-intensive to maintain. The local preference for air-conditioned indoor environments is unsurprising.
To overcome these challenges, the new waterfront city of Seef Lusail presents an opportunity to have sustainability built into its urban planning and design, so that the fruits of sustainability and vibrant city life can be reaped on a daily basis without the need for hefty investments. The aims and strategies are three-pronged:
• Design a walking city from scratch with climatically responsive public realm and architecture, mainly through use of passive climate control tools to yield citywide energy savings.
• Inspire a plethora of choices for land use, activities and transport options. This can be achieved through a high degree of land use, mixing within urban blocks, improving economic sustainability and putting in place infrastructure that supports multiple public and non-motorised personal transport modes.
• In the social dimension, Seef Lusail aims to draw people onto the streets and into public spaces by making them conducive for public life most hours of the day and most days of the year. Key also to having a strong sense of place and identity, Seef Lusail is rooted in the Qatari coastal heritage, taking references from the sea-oriented city layout and its traditional architecture.
To create a change in people’s mentality and behaviour in experiencing their city, emphasis is placed on planning strategies for environmental sustainability, financial feasibility, optimal land use mix, urban and experimental design that creates people-centric places, and city design guidelines that help public and private sector stakeholders shape a walkable and enjoyable public realm.
A March graduate from Columbia University, DP Architects’ associate director Ms Chan Hui Min has worked on large-scale urban planning projects in the Middle East since joining the multi-disciplinary firm in 2005, and was also instrumental in running its Environmentally Sustainable Design unit.