Doha, the most populated city in the Qatar, grew out of, and now contains the Al Bidda neighborhood in the east. Mentions of Al Bidda date back to the 17th century, but it rose to prominence in the 19th century. Doha was officially established in 1820. It became the capital city in 1971 when Qatar became independent.
It quickly became one of the main financial centers of the region. In 1996 the Al Jazeera satellite networks were established in Doha. A year later Education City was established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. With an area of 14 square kilometers, the area houses educational facilities the serve students from school age through graduate school. Virginia Commonwelth University was the first of 8-10 foreign universities to establish branch campuses in Education City. It also houses a number of Qatari schools and research institutions.
bin Mohammad Al Thani had met Jean Nouvel on the occasion of the retrospective
exhibition of the work of the architect at the Centre Pompidou in 2002 and
invited him to design a tower to fit into the vision for the development of
Doha. The Tower is a cylindrical volume that measures 45 metres in diameter.
The steel and concrete structure follows a diamond-shaped grid that bends along
the virtual surface of the cylinder. The facade uses a double-skin system. The
unique exterior skin is composed of four “butterfly” aluminium elements of
different scales and evokes the complexity of the mashrabiyya, while serving as protection from the sun. The pattern
varies according to the orientation and respective needs for solar protection.
The internal layer is a slightly reflective glass skin that completes the solar
protection. Thetower is accessible by a landscaped garden
sloping down to the large lobby under a glass awning surrounding the building.
This bias suggests that the tower is deeply rooted in the earth. Vegetation and
glass canopy overlap so to erase the boundaries between nature and the
environment created by man. A monumental atrium rises from the ground floor up
112 metres to level 27.