Examine Urban Aesthetics and Design Control in Qatar

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Aesthetic control and Regulations

Andrews points out that design was previously judged based on aesthetic quality; however, recently, the efficiency of the design has been given the authenticity of meaningful criteria. Aesthetic control by the planning authorities has been widely criticized for being emotive and to some extent, imprecise. This is because the appeal of other inputs such as geography, sociology, and economics happens to be higher than the external appearance of the design (Andrews, 1992). Aesthetic control and regulations must take into account practical considerations such as suitability, the practicality of location, ease of use, a mix of space, context, functional layout, and access.

Jones states that architectural design happens to be a social process as well as a communicative action that responds to the political, social as well as cultural instrumental ends. Design review practices and control are practically and institutionally constrained, which means that the design regulations are subject to hegemonic control as well as subversion or resistance by alternative viewpoints. Thus in a built environment, conformance to specific images and attitudes is often sought over.

Design of Public Houses

Nagy states that the design of the public houses did not accommodate the customary practices of the Qataris because domestic activities which were customarily conducted were faced with immense difficulty to perform because of the closed interactive area. Many of the original occupants complained about the reduced outdoor activity space that the design of the houses provided. This is because the design of a self-contained house near the center of the property could not be changed to add accommodations in size as well as for the needs of the family. The most common criticism, states Nagy, of the public houses, is that they hinder movement, which can be contributed to the design of the house. Furthermore, the plans of the open houses have a lack of provision for majlis structure. The building regulations that require the homes to be set back from the line of the property make houses that have a central yard seem less efficient in the use of the plot.  The regulations state that the homes should be placed on the neighboring plots, which means that residents can have a full view of the garden and house of the neighbor, which is culturally inappropriate for Qataris. Shah shares the same views regarding the use of space as Nagy as he states that architecture impacts social interaction in the sense of personal space as well as territoriality. Thus the Qataris complaining about the lack of space for performing activities and lack of privacy due to house design means the design does not meet the privacy needs. The plan that buildings possess can control as well as dominate people. Shah states that the way traffic can be controlled with speed bumps to slow down the drivers, structures can also influence the socio-cultural traditions and personal identity of individuals (Shah, 2007).

The customary architectural design of the houses allocated to middle-income Qatari citizens before the 1960s regulations had wall enclosing within the living and sleeping structures along with the ancillary buildings such as the privies and kitchens were catered to be oriented toward being accustomed to the day to day activities. However, the public houses granted by the government in the late 1970s and early 1960s were small and self-contained, which hindered the social and cultural practices of the Qataris. The residents had to, in turn, transform their living spaces to suit their needs, and this architectural transformation of the houses indicates that the Qataris engage in a different form of social interaction with the diverse social sphere of Doha.


 that adopt architectural design controls establish various review boards that decide on the design of the structure. The review board is mainly responsible for maintaining an architectural plan that prevents owners from adopting house designs that are not concurrent with the architectural design goals. The proposals to change the design of the house must undergo the architectural review board that includes checking the property value. Property value check involves checking whether the design of one building might depreciate the property values of the adjacent properties throughout the community or not. Furthermore, the construction of buildings should be stopped on the grounds of inappropriateness and dissimilarity. This means that a building that might be incongruous with the other buildings in its surrounding is not suitable.

Recently, there have been several municipalities that have adopted a different range of ordinances for residential homes as well as for architectural controls. These municipalities have expressed fears of uniformity, which is done excessively, and have claimed that the rights of the property owners in terms of renovating homes for aesthetical values must be protected. Some of the ordinances have even indicated which housing styles are permitted that reflect their desire to preserve the existing community character (Rubin, 1975). The ordinance has the authority to establish community architectural controls for private homeowners. Rubin states that this form of power of regulation permits them to enable acts, which in turn allow the municipalities for zoning ordinances. State zoning enabling acts present in the regulations contain authorization for management of appearances and aesthetics, which municipalities usually use for enacting architectural controls for the general welfare of the public.

Housing Policy in Qatar

The very initial phase of housing policy in Qatar was initiated in 1964, which included the provision of homes to the unemployed, disabled, and elderly. The houses offered to the Qataris in the late 1960s to the early 1970s by the state were unfamiliar in their design as most of the homes required adjustments in terms of the use of the house. Nagy states that not only were the Qataris relocating to the city often finding themselves surrounded by neighbors that were unfamiliar but also found apartments to be adjustable to use because of their design (Nagy, 1998).




ANDREWS, K. D., 1992. The Aesthetic Control of Development. JSTOR, Issue 19, pp. 32-39.

Jones, R. A., 2001. DESIGN COMMUNICATION AND AESTHETIC CONTROL: ARCHITECTS, PLANNERS, ANDDESIGN REVIEW. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 18(1), pp. 23-38.

Nagy, S., 1998. Social diversity and changes in the form and appearance of the Qatari house. Visual Anthropology, 10(4), pp. 281-304.

Rubin, B. A., 1975. Architecture, Aesthetic Zoning, and the First Amendment. Stanford Law Review,, 28(1), pp. 179-201.

Shah, R. C., 2007. HOW ARCHITECTURE REGULATES. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research,, 24(4), p. 350=359.






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