A green infrastructure event Qatar was held in early April in Doha. Al Sulaiteen Industrial Complex and the contractor Nakheel recently sponsored an event organised by Dr. Anna Grichting to launch the new permaculture roof garden at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (DAUP) at Qatar University College of Engineering (QU-CENG).
Support from the Swiss Embassy made the green Infrastructure Qatar event happen, This meant that the Green Infrastructure Consultancy was well represented. I was joined by my colleague Dusty Gedge and Nathalie Baumann, who operates a sister company in Switzerland.
Green Infrastructure Qatar – Biosolar roofs
There were several presentations and lively discussions on Green Infrastructure Qatar; food security, the water sensitive city and biodiversity in the urban desert context. Of particular interest were discussions about combining photovoltaics (PVs) and green roofs. There is plenty of sunshine in Qatar and the shade provided by PVs can help to create a better microclimate. This will help plants to grow so I expect to see desert biosolar roofs before long.
Green Infrastructure Qatar – Native Plants for Qatar
I travelled to Doha in 2008 to work on improvements to the landscape of the Qatar Foundation’s Education City. The client had an aspiration to use native plants in the landscaping in order to boost biodiversity and save water. Indigenous plants of Qatar include a large range of trees and shrubs as well as wild flowers and bulbs, including many with attractive blooms. You can see many of them on the Qatar enature app.The difficulty for the landscape architects at that time was the lack of commercially available native plants. This is changing. Nakheel Landscapes advise me that there are more than 100 species of native plants growing in local nurseries and there are other landscape companies also involved in growing and providing native plants including the Sidra Doha company. There are also some specialists researching this area including Dr. Arvind Bhatt of the Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD).Note the seminar on using native plants in hot and arid Gulf countries on 23rd May 2015). I re-visited Education City in 2015 and was pleased to see native trees and shrubs being used in the landscape there including the iconic Sidra tree as well as attractive small shrubs like Bakhatri (Pulicaria undulata). The flowers of Bakhatri were covered with several species of wild bee and hoverflies.
Heart of Doha
The interest in using native and the increasing availability means that the idea of the ‘desert roof’ which I first suggested as a green roof typology for the Heart of Doha masterplan in 2010 can become a reality. The desert roof would not be green in appearance and would not be a garden. The idea is for wild plants to flower after the winter rain with the possibility of soaking them again after some months to stimulate another round of flowering. The rest of the time some plants would die back, but there would be perennials continuing to shield the roof from the sun and providing habitat for wildlife, including insect pollinators and birds. Clever use of stones would provide attractive patterns and textures as well as nooks and crannies for plants to establish in. The desert roof would be low maintenance and would celebrate the beauty of biodiversity of the desert in the heart of the city. We are looking forward to working with our friends in Qatar, in both the academic and commercial fields, on putting native plants on the roof.
Green Instructure Consultancy is looking forward to liaising with colleagues in Doha on Green Infrastructure Qatar.