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Renders: Poliedro Estudio
AGi architects sweep ‘Second Winner’ for the design of the Qatar Courthouse – a proposal marked by structural order as a reference to brutalist utopias...
AGi architects team opine that institutional buildings need to embody the ideals and value system of any given society, with order being one of the core principles of any group. No society can prosper and thrive without it. Order is structure, it is the law, it is justice; without it, there is chaos. Therefore, it became extremely important that the Qatar Court House be aspirational and reflects these basic principles.
The building is designed on two basic grids that are site driven, one linking it to its immediate context and the second to the larger context of Doha. These grids create stunning structural and spatial possibilities that make the building stand out visually so that people can see their ideals reflected in built form - structure, order, transparency, ambition - all of which are the ideals of Qatar’s growing society.
One of the fundamental questions for a civic structure is how is it approached and how is it perceived? The project brief contained a dense program that would occupy only 40% of the site, which would yield a type of vertical structure. This verticality, however, in the context of modern-day Doha does not read as institutional. The architects therefore sought to expand the ground plane across the entirety of the site, creating a public plaza and in doing so, altering the proportion of the building.
Floating above the plaza is the main structure carrying the central courtrooms, signifying that the law is above everyone. These subtle gestures ensure that the plaza acts as a threshold between society at large and the justice system, making the Qatar Court House an open and welcoming building, rather than an ominous, insular one.
At this scale, the floating structure acts as a literal and figurative canopy: it offers protection from the elements and a place where one can seek refuge from the greater population. The geometry of the floating structure ensures that there is ample light that fills the plaza, making the building feel lighter. At night, this very interplay between the volumes themselves makes the building visually striking.
Selected for a second prize from more than 30 restricted competition entries, the fate of this winning entry stands undecided for now.