Qatar National Library (QNL) will host the ‘Traditional Gulf Architecture Week’ from April 22–25, with a program comprising an exhibition, lecture, and conference examining the region’s architectural history, forms, and identity from the 1700s to the 1960s.
Traditional Gulf Architecture Week kicks off with an exhibition of architectural photographs, drawings, and studies from a survey of Qatar’s historical buildings conducted by the French Archaeological Mission to Qatar in 1984–85. The photographs were taken by the Mission’s photographer, Vincent Aïtzegagh, while the accompanying studies were written by the Mission’s specialist in Islamic archaeology and art history, Dr. Claire Hardy-Guilbert, a senior researcher at Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris.
QNL has recently acquired the Mission’s entire photographic survey—1,700 color slides in total—a small sample of which appears in the exhibition. The photographs portray the broad range of Qatar’s vernacular, domestic, public, religious, and military architecture.
The exhibition opening will be followed by a lecture on Qatar’s traditional architecture by Dr. Hardy-Guilbert, who will be accompanied by Aïtzegagh.
At the subsequent conference, expert panels will examine recent architectural projects in the region, the varieties of vernacular buildings, the influence of pre-oil trade and migration flows between the Arabian Gulf and the wider world, the state of traditional Arabian Gulf architecture today, preservation practices and debates, and architecture’s ongoing significance for national identity in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf.
QNL is co-convening the conference with Liverpool University’s School of Architecture, Qatar University’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Ibrahim Jaidah, CEO and Chief Architect of the Arab Engineer Bureau. Dr. James Onley, Director of Historical Research and Partnerships, QNL, said: “We invite everyone interested in Qatar’s architecture, heritage, and material culture to come to the Traditional Gulf Architecture Week at QNL. For one week, some of the world’s leading experts on the subject will meet under one roof to present, discuss, and debate the fascinating history of the region’s architecture and its influences.”
Ibrahim Jaidah said: “This is an important and long-awaited event on traditional Arabian Gulf architecture. The profiles of the organizers and delegates are impressive, and the fascinating topics to be presented are sure to stimulate many future studies. I hope and wish that this becomes an annual event.”
Stephane Ipert, Preservation and Conservation Manager, QNL, said: “The traditional architecture of Qatar reflects the country’s deep-rooted cultural and social landscape, from shops, houses, and mosques in urban areas to horse stables, farms, shooting lodges, and fortresses in the countryside. Though many of these structures no longer survive, through their examples, we can see how past generations of Qataris lived, as well as how their architecture influences Qatar’s modern environment.”
Traditional Gulf Architecture Week forms part of the QNL’s Traditional Gulf Architecture Project, which seeks to create a digital archive of historical photographs, architectural maps and drawings, and publications relating to the region’s architectural heritage, for use by scholars, architects, students, and the general public in Qatar and around the world.