Msheireb Properties to build Gulf’s largest open-air square ‘Al Baraha’ at heart of its development

by  — 13 June 2013

The regeneration of the historical commercial centre of Doha will feature the Gulf’s largest open-air square, Al Baraha, according to Msheireb Properties, developer of the Msheireb Downtown Doha project.

Al Baraha will feature al fresco dining and world class climate management technologies.

Al Baraha will be one of the main attractions of the development where visitors will be able to enjoy al fresco fine and casual dining at over 15 outlets. Being built as part of Phase 1B of Downtown Doha, Al Baraha is set to be the biggest manmade square in the Gulf, equal in size to the famous Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Al Baraha will comprise state-of-the-art cooling systems and climate management technologies to create a comfortable temperature for visitors, pedestrians and diners even in the hot summer months. Inspired by aspects of traditional Qatari architecture, the streets and buildings are oriented to ensure natural ventilation by capturing cool breezes from the Gulf, shading most pedestrian routes from the heat. 

Al Baraha is destined to be the symbolic heart of this regenerated district and will host a number of vibrant activities throughout the year. The square will also be bordered by the 19,000 square metre-Cultural Forum, which provides a venue for the creative community, with features including two art house cinemas and a performing arts theatre. Space will also be available for public art exhibitions and lessons in music and the fine arts.

Designed by international architecture firm Mossessian & Partners, Al Baraha will feature a unique urban majlis, blending interior design features such as chandeliers and banquettes in an outdoor setting. The design was recognised at the MIPIM Architectural Awards in Cannes, France, earlier last year. 

“As one of the key social hubs within the Msheireb Downtown Doha development, Al Baraha will reintroduce an authentically Arab social dynamic into our capital and serve as a meeting point for young and old, and a gateway into Doha for the many first-time visitors to Qatar,” said Abdulla Hassan Al–Mehshadi, chief executive officer at Msheireb Properties. 

“It will also reflect the way Msheireb is recreating traditional Arab urban environments to lessen human impacts on the environment, with features that discourage car use and promote social interaction and pedestrianism,” Al–Mehshadi said.

Paved with stone, Al Baraha will serve as a relaxing meeting point, with light installations, water fountains and benches. It will be anchored by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and host more than a dozen restaurants at its ground level, overlooked by clusters of residential and office buildings.

An iconic retractable canopy will shade the square to reduce direct heat during the day and will be retracted at night, allowing heat to escape. Low level canopies will provide additional shading and circulate chilled air from cooling bollards that are powered by photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. An advanced under-floor radiant cooling system will further lower the temperature of the floor and eliminate heat gain from the stone paving. 

“Al Baraha will be a fascinating showcase of how sustainable technologies, historic and modern, are being used to sustainably manage the local climate,” said Al–Mehshadi. “Moreover, the design of these elements will be in keeping with the traditional architectural style defining the Msheireb Downtown Doha project as a whole.” 

Spread over a 31-hectare (310,000 square metres) site, the Msheireb Downtown Doha aims to blend traditional Qatari heritage and aesthetic influences with the latest advances in clean technology and environmental efficiency.

The overall strategic objective of the development is to reverse the pattern of real estate, which has tended to encourage isolated and energy-intensive land use, urban sprawl, and an over-reliance on car transport.

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