The Valley City

MZ Architects
2012
Under construction
3 million-sqm

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Unlike the current trend of futuristic high-tech city projects, the VCQ retrieves its architectural guidelines from the traditional Qatari and Islamic cities, trying to recapture their urban fabric. The master plan of the Valley City – Qatar (VCQ) emerged from an in-depth understanding of the existing urban morphology and social structure of Qatari cities, responding to the growing demand for affordable small-size rental accommodation, while respecting architectural guidelines of traditional Qatari and Islamic cities. Traditionally, Islamic cities were characterized by a chaotic urban morphology as a result of Islamic laws of succession. Properties were subject to successive subdivisions until minimum but functional parts were arrived at: the basic ‘workable’ nucleus unit. Successive iterations of subdivision over the course of decades gave a fractal character to these cities. When taken over a long period of time span – time of development of a city –, this simple function produced at later stages a complex morphology as is know in Chaos Theory. The VCQ recaptures the simplicity of this original urban fabric by using Chaos Theory as foundation and mathematical tool, and working with a system that creates a series of well defined spaces or “urban fingers” running parallel to each other and creating maximum interface between public and private spaces by maximizing their line of exposure.

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The proposed urban grid is built perpendicular to the hot desert wind trajectory, allowing the wind to hit the city and initiate a circulating movement throughout the urban structure in a sequence of chaotic curves following the Highway dragon curve. The path generated by the wind turbulences leads to the development of a linear city with a catalytic green valley crossing it between the residential fingers, thus creating a strong sense of place for the community and allowing for a healthy and climate friendly pedestrian realm. The resulting urban plan allows for expansion of the city with equal opportunities towards the desert and the sea, thus maximizing growth possibilities. Established with sustainable and green standards, the VCQ master plan maximizes the use of natural elements such as wind, water and sun, and minimizes financial building costs, while offering all the benefits of an energy saving city throughout its design and building material. Located on a 3 million-sqm plot in the heart of the desert, between historic cities of Doha and Al Khor, the VCQ is envisioned as a modern low-cost city designed to attract middle-income Qatari citizens as well as the growing population of expatriates and their families, in an environment where work, leisure and residence are strongly bound.

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The VCQ could further develop towards the desert from one side and towards the sea from the other side, creating a marina as well as a commercial harbor. A water transport service could also be envisioned from the VCQ harbor to the center of Doha and eventually to Doha airport. The VCQ harbor would then be linked to the proposed public transport lanes that serve the different neighborhoods within the city.

This project is still at the concept stage. The 1st phase of construction is expected to be launched in 2014. It is located in Qatar, between the historic cities of Doha and Al Khor. The Valley City – Qatar has won the “Master-planning Award” at the 2013 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Project Awards.

Rooted in the traditional Qatari architecture from which it retrieves its architectural guidelines, and developed using Chaos Theory as foundation and mathematical tool, the VCQ tries to recapture the simplicity of the original local urban fabric of traditional Qatari cities by working with a system that creates a series of well defined spaces or “urban fingers” running parallel to each other and creating maximum interface between public and private spaces by maximizing their line of exposure. These fingers all connect to a common open space, a green heart that runs the length of the project and that finds its way between the residential fingers and into ones home. It creates a strong sense of place for the community and allows for a healthy and climate friendly pedestrian realm, an oasis for the community. The proposed urban grid is built perpendicular to the hot desert wind trajectory, allowing the wind to hit the city & initiate a circulating movement throughout the urban structure in a sequence of chaotic curves obeying the Highway dragon curve law. The path generated by the wind turbulences leads to the development of a linear city with a green valley crossing it. As the catalytic core of the city, the long open space and valley area incorporates all vital public spaces of the city, ranging from central piazzas with street greenery, leisure and culture areas, sports facilities, commercial zones, open-air markets, green parks as well as public transportation stations. It helps create a healthy open space that is set within walking distance from all the residential neighborhoods with extensive car-free shaded pedestrian areas creating a socially integrated lifestyle throughout the hot and cold seasons. The emphasis on the great public space not only gives a sense of place to the city but also helps raise both the economic and environmental value of the whole development site. The residential approach of the city creates independent neighborhoods on both sides of the main valley, served by a peripheral road that connects them to each other and to the main highway to Doha.

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Established with sustainable and green standards, the VCQ master plan takes full advantage of the city’s potential, local climate & site orientation, maximizes the use of the natural elements of wind, water and sun, and minimizes the financial building costs. The city offers all the benefits of an energy saving city throughout its design and building material: green transport system; water treatment plant; narrow roads providing shading and lessening the effect of hot daytime sun; green roofs protecting buildings from direct sun; sunroof panels; strategically oriented streets and public spaces; maximum usage of windows for fresh air; heavy reliance on solar panels, etc. Xeriscapes and low water consumption landscapes shall beautify the city while the ease of pedestrian circulation and usage shall make sure its inhabitants bring it to life. The design thus enhances the feeling of the well-being in the city and creates its microclimates.

Project data:
Location: The Valley City
Client: VCQ
Year: 2012
Status: Concept
Design Team: MZ Architects

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