Doha Modern Playground, 2022
Glass Reinforced Concrete, stainless steel with play attachments, 43 × 43 m. Commissioned by Qatar Museums as part of its extensive public art programme.
Al Masrah Park, Doha.
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The Doha Modern Playground is a site-responsive playground inspired by a group of six key modernist buildings realised between 1962 and 1987 in Doha, Qatar: the play objects reference the Qatar National Theatre and Ministry of Information (Triad CICO, 1982), the Sheraton Hotel (William Pereira, 1982), Qatar University (Kamal El Kafrawi, 1985), Qatar Post Office (Twist & Whitley, 1987), the Gulf Hotel (William Sidnaoui, 1972) and Dar Al Kutub (Unknown, 1962). The architectural miniatures turned playground objects are of strustctures that played a vital role in transforming Qatar into a modern and post-colonial state. Although by the 1960s and 1970s there were cinemas, a theatre, a post office, and hotels in Qatar, these buildings in particular signalled a turning point during which the services they provided were elevated by the state and in some cases institutionalised.
The impact of this overarching architectural project, instrumental to the fashioning of a modern society in Qatar, has only in recent years begun to receive the attention it deserves by scholars and practitioners -- namely by the local architect Fatma Al Sehlawi who Dawood collaborated with on the research for the project. In Sehlawi's words, the commission is an "important milestone in [this ongoing] research...designed by [Dawood] to cement the importance of such a significant architectural era." Dawood's playground brings into relief important elements of Qatar's architectural and social histories, and through a forthcoming publication, the project documents communities' impressions of their built environment and the personal stories connected with them.
Reimagined as a children’s playground, these iconic but often overlooked buildings are transformed into a space of play and learning alongside some of the most recent architectural landmarks in Doha, connecting visitors to a holistic understanding and celebration of the modern architectural history of Qatar. Dawood’s project is an invitation to children, park visitors and art enthusiasts alike, to explore the shape of modernity through play.