With the completion of the first phase of construction of the Doha Metro, in the capital of Qatar, one of the world’s most advanced and fastest driverless metro systems is now underway. The architectural firm UNStudio created the station designs for the new Doha metro network in collaboration with the Qatar Railways’ Department of Architecture. The result of their work was an “Architectural Branding Manual“, an extensive set of design guidelines, architectural details and materials specifications, according to which the construction of the three metro lines and 37 stations in the first phase of development has now been completed.
According to its architects and designers, their aim was to “create a consistent identity across all scales from individual stations to the entire network“. To this end, and according to statements to World Architecture News by B. van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio, through “an adaptive parametric system (…), it has been possible to create a design with many variants, yet one which maintains a coherent identity throughout all of the stations. In this way, we can combine local contextual differences within an overall identity and parametrically adapt physical factors such as wayfinding, daylight penetration, passenger flows, constructive elements etc. in a complex but extremely disciplined system”.
UNStudio’s designs manifest a duality between the pure and modest exterior and the rich and luminous interiors, with pearlescent-effect facings. While the exterior buildings refer to the “monolithic strength” of ancient Qatari architecture, the interior spaces create a “radiant effect of movement and fluidity“. The overall concept of the Doha metro stations is inspired by the historic caravanserais, ancient buildings along the main trade, pilgrimage or military routes in the Middle East, where travellers and caravan animals could spend the night and rest.
The new metro network aims to create an efficient, reliable and sustainable public transport service that will become an attractive alternative to private transport in a city where most people travel by car.