A place for people

04 Sep 2012

Qatar Science and Technology Park brings research and business together

Qatar's new Science and Technology Park (STP) is a key initiative of the Qatar Foundation in its drive to diversify the economy, create highly skilled jobs and to establish Qatar as a knowledge economy in the Middle East. Qatar is championing industry-based research and development, and is investing deeply in education and science. In the STP, Qatar is building a world-class environment for companies to develop their technology in Qatar, including a business incubator to help technology start-ups.

The vision of the masterplan is to create both a physical and virtual hub for the knowledge economy in Qatar - an effective environment for research, with an identity that is both unique to Qatar and of global stature. Integrated into Education City, the STP is placed at the crossing point of the east-west arrival axis and the major north-south ‘green spine' that links the campus with other precincts of Education City.

The masterplan for the STP encompasses 123 ha of land which is integrated with the facilities of the Qatar Foundation, its new teaching hospital and the new convention centre. Phase one construction of the STP, comprises 115,000 sqm of development. At its heart is the 12,000 sqm Incubator Centre (IC), incorporating the administrative hub and business centre. This building is flanked by the first tow tenant laboratory Information Transfer Centre (ITTC) buildings, each 20,000 sqm.

All three buildings sit on a landscaped podium, providing under-croft car parking for 1,450 cars. Pedestrian and landscaped areas are shaded by a covered pedestrian ‘veil' roof structure, linking the buildings and encouraging the free movement of people between all buildings.

The design of the built form draws on Islamic cultural references in an abstracted, contemporary expression using cutting edge technology. An important feature of Islamic architecture is the focus on the interior space as opposed to the outside, or façade. The buildings are generally enveloped by double skin-facades that respond to the climate of the area, and the internal highly elaborate and activated atria's, equivalent to the inner life of a traditional courtyard.

While most of the detail is revealed inside the buildings, the iconic wave-like roof form of the veil structure set against flat perforated screen facades creates a sense of exuberance and aspiration in the design for the users of the STP, as well as an urban landmark for the city.

Capitalizing on its strategic location, the iconic Incubator Centre is the nucleus of STP. Located at the centre of the site on an elevated podium, it has an aeronautical quality and appears to defy gravity, like a hovering UFO, which gives it a subliminal presence in the landscape.

By elevating the IC building, the whole under croft podium spine is given over to public areas and retail tenancies including banking, travel outlets, prayer rooms and other amenities. . On the upper two levels the building houses the administrative hub of the campus centre: management offices, ‘hot offices', concierge and meeting facilities and small tenancies suitable for incubator or start-up businesses.

The other programmatic components of STP - research labs and support spaces known as ITTC Buildings- are housed in two separate 20,000 sqm volumes that flank the Incubator Centre. These buildings are composed of 1500 sqm floor plates that can be sub-divided into 500 sqm modules.

The client brief called for these to be highly flexible spaces, and very secure to facilitate high-level research activities. In close collaboration with both structural and services engineers a highly flexible laboratory design was formulated by creating; totally free column floor spaces that span 27 metres, the integration of an interstitial floor (an intermediate services zone for total flexibility), and a perimeter peristitial wall zone (mechanical services are external to the building, keeping tenant space completely clear). The incorporation of both the interstitial floor and peristitial wall provides the laboratories with world's best practice flexible open-plan and secure multifunctional laboratories.

The distinctive wave-like ‘veil' roof structure of STP's circulation spine has a sculptural quality which strongly contrasts with the horizontality of the landscape. The multifunctional ‘veil' provides shading to the outdoor areas and allows the buildings to be physically and symbolically connected. The swelling of the ‘veil' over the central Incubator Centre accentuates the heart of the site and announces the major entrance through a 34metre high atrium. The veil then extends across the site to the east and west into the ITTC buildings and provides protection to the central atrium/courtyards.

A particular unique aspect of the Qatar Science and Technology Park is the relationship of the podium carpark situated directly below the research buildings. This provides direct vertical access to the podium and tenancies, minimizing the exposure of the occupants to the harsh climate. This differs to typical research and technology parks around the world which are configured in a way which separates the carpark as a separate entity to the research buildings.

Qatar Science and Technology Park is truly a place for people; a green respite with the sound of moving water that is focused on innovation and collaboration. By bringing research and business together, QSTP is spurring the development of Qatar's knowledge economy and helping to drive the region toward a more diverse and sustainable economy.

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