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23 Nov 2021
John McAslan + Partners-designed M7 cultural hub and museum opens in Doha
By Tom Walker
John McAslan + Partners-designed M7 cultural hub and museum opens in Doha
A rooftop restaurant overlooks the new Al Baraha square
Photo: John McAslan + Partners
A new creative hub in Doha looks to position itself as the new heart of Qatar’s fashion and design industry – as well as a public showcase for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

The M7 Design and Cultural Hub, designed by John McAslan + Partners, is the architectural anchor of the 31-hectare Msheireb mixed-use development.

Established by Qatar Museums, under the leadership of Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani – the sister of Qatar's ruling Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – M7 "empowers designers to explore, collaborate and develop successful businesses".

M7 was conceived as a diverse mix of cultural and education functions layered together around a central courtyard allowing interdisciplinary creativity to flourish and providing a vibrant and dynamic hub, for fashion, design and technology within Qatar and the region.

A rooftop restaurant overlooks the new Al Baraha square – the central public space within the new Msheireb development, and creates a dialogue with the new flagship Mandarin Oriental Hotel opposite, also designed by John McAslan and Partners.

Comprising tight-knit and compact urban blocks incorporating museums, a mosque, shopping arcades, homes and offices along shaded streets, the Msheireb district of Doha has been designed as a ‘walkable city’ served by trams and a Metro.

M7 is at the heart of Msheireb and its design echoes elements found in traditional Qatari architecture while countering the sweeping internationalised urban makeovers common in the Emirates and Gulf States.

According to architect John McAslan, M7 demonstrates Qatar’s aspiration to explore its own heritage while reaching out to other places and diverse cultures.

“In essence, we've striven to design a building that radiates a sense of shared discovery," McAslan said.

"Taking as its inspiration the traditional Qatari courtyard house, the building quality of presence and the internal atmosphere is conceived as a massive stone block from which spaces and courtyards are carved.”

Public space flows into the building, a place of layered activities and spaces celebrating design, fashion, music, cinema and contemporary arts.

Its heart is a generous atrium surrounded by grand processional stairs and surmounted by a skylight, its Islamic-patterned screen diffusing sunlight through the building.

McAslan added: “This light-dappled environment, reminiscent of the neighbouring historic Souk Waqif, offers a vibrant marketplace of the arts in which Islamic and modern architecture come together."

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