soaring al wahda arches intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage

soaring al wahda arches intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage

erik behrens’ al wahda arches: bridging qatar’s past & future

 

Qatar’s most prominent landmark, the Al Wahda Arches, stand at a soaring height of 100m transforming a generic infrastructure corridor into an integral part of the nation’s identity, and one of the most iconic public artworks in the world. Designed by German architect Erik Behrens for AECOM, the dual steel arches intertwine over the Lusail Expressway as a unifying symbol of the country’s nationalist pride, forward-thinking vision, and rich pearl-diving heritage.

 

Best experienced in motion, as travelers pass through the Al Wahda interchange the sculpture appears to kinetically transform in dynamic displays of shifting light and perspective for a memorable kinetic viewing experience.

soaring al wahda arches by erik behrens intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
Al Wahda Arches | image courtesy of Ashghal

 

 

soaring steel arches form a monumental gateway

 

Erik Behrens’ immersive Al Wahda Arches redefine the concept of a monument to a new level that extends beyond traditional figurative objects and mere structural brilliance. The public artwork stands as an elegant fusion of neo-futuristic design with traditional beauty, inspired by the ring and net of Qatar’s traditional pearl divers’ satchels and the country’s proud maritime cultural heritage.

 

By day, the cable net, with over 500 paillette-shaped cable clamps, creates a dynamic shimmer effect as it echoes the sunlight reflecting off the Persian Gulf. By night, the arches illuminate Doha’s skyline and appear to rise out of the ground like the divers’ satchels which were once used to raise pearls out of the water.

 

Infusing an immersive element, the German architect fosters a distinct dynamic interaction between the Al Wahda Arches and the viewer. As drivers approach the junction and drive around, across, or through, they engage in a cinematic viewing experience. The sculpture continually changes its form and appearance from each shifting viewpoint, creating a poetic kinetic experience.

soaring al wahda arches by erik behrens intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
the 100 m high arches intertwine over the Lusail Expressway | image courtesy Ashghal

 

 

a nationalist symbol of identity

 

The structure was completed in 2020 in the midst of the Gulf Blockade and ensuing diplomatic crisis. During the difficult times, it fostered a sense of community and became an optimistic emblem of identity, solidarity, and the nation’s ability to forge ahead and realize its vision. Further, the sweeping intertwining arches sit at the junction which acts as a gateway between Qatar’s historic city and Lusail — its new up-and-coming centre of innovation. 

 

For AECOM, Erik Behrens conceives the sculpture’s form as a new monumental icon comprised of two tilted steel arches and an interconnecting cable net. The large arch spans 147 meters and is just under 100 meters in height, while the smaller arch spans 140 meters in length with a height of 78 meters. Each arch is inclined at 20 degrees, while the foundations of the arches are located within traffic islands on either side of the underpass and ad-grade junction.

soaring al wahda arches by erik behrens intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
two tilted steel arches are interconnected by cable net | image by Erik Behrens

al-wahda-arches-qatar-erik-behrens-designboom-1

soaring al wahda arches by erik behrens intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
the ring and net recall Qatar’s traditional pearl divers’ satchels | image by Markus Elblaus

soaring al wahda arches intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
the sculpture stands as a symbol of unity, solidarity and nationalist pride | image by Naser al Omari

soaring al wahda arches intertwine to mark qatar's thriving future & pearl-diving heritage
the gateway bridges Qatar’s historic city and new smart city, Lusail | image by Naser al Omari

 

 

project info:

 

name: Al Wahda Arches 
architecture: Erik Behrens for AECOM

location: Lusail Expressway, Qatar

 

 

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: ravail khan | designboom

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