Education in the city

Learning from Old Doha: Education in the city

UK Design Team: Alicja Borkowska & Iris Papadatou from you&me architecture
Qatar Design Team: Fatima Fawzzy (AEC Consultancy Office), Alaa Larri

Masterplan competition

Alicja Borkowska and Iris Papadatou from you&me architects along with Fatima Fawzzy (AEC Consultancy Office), Alaa Larri from Qatar are the winners of the  Old Doha Prize, a competition to redesign part of the old city of Doha in Qatar.



Four teams of architects have “worked intensively to develop contextual design responses to address the challenge of regenerating and maintaining the heritage of the city” as part of a British-Qatari collaborative project to “reimagine the urban landscape of old Doha.” As a city defined by its strong heritage, coupled with ambitious plans for the future, the competition aimed to discover ways of regenerating parts of the city centre in a sustainable, yet vibrant, way.

From the architects: The winning proposal uses the program of education as a socially based regeneration catalyst for the Al Asmakh and Al Najada areas in Old Doha, which is analysed as an economic attractor on a local as well as a global scale. Inspiration is derived from the Qatari vernacular, the courtyard as a madrasa and social place of learning, implementing it on the “macro” urban scale, as well as the “micro” scale.




The analogy of carving is used as a main conceptual tool: disparate vacant plots are identified around the site and reclaimed as carved areas of educational activity, connected by a network of sikkahs (routes) which also become activated as educational / cultural social spaces.

The existing urban fabric of the Old Doha is mostly retained but carved in order to enhance relationships and thresholds between public and private, old and new. A language of cutting, adding, filling, wrapping, slicing is adopted. The new additions are expressed as more lightweight structures which grow around the more heavyweight existing.




The ambition of the proposal is to create a truly walkable, sustainable educational and cultural quarter, which protects the valuable architectural heritage and memory of the existing fabric but also enables it to become flexible and adaptable for the present and future of Qatar.

The Old Doha Prize, which has been jointly organized by the British Council and the Qatar Museums Authority as part of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture, has also been supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Bartlett School of Architecture. The winning team will receive a grant of £15,000 to assist in funding further research into their ideas as part of a design residency.








About you&me

you&me is an emerging multi-disciplinary architecture platform established by Alicja Borkowska and Iris Papadatou, after studying together at Cambridge and the Royal College of Art. you&me is committed to making things – a postcard, a book, an installation, a building – using playful, challenging and inclusive methodologies. The platform places great emphasis on collaboration, the process, the way we all work with each other and everyone involved in any one project.  you&me believe that even the smallest interventions can have a big impact and self-initiation and continuous community participation is fundamental to their approach.


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