Interrogating the Practice of Image Making in a Budding Context

Ashraf M. Salama



Image making is a continuous worldwide practice of architects and designers whose concern is to create meaningful environments. Such a practice results in expressions that either reflect the regional context or mirror the wider global culture. This paper aims at interrogating image making practices in the city of Doha, which has experienced rapid urban transformations, associated with building large scale work and learning environments, mixed use developments, and cultural and sport facilities. Contextualizing current debate on Doha’s architecture and urbanism, a critical analysis of geo-cultural politics and on the notion of the ‘scapes of flows’ is undertaken. Based on contextual, critical, and perceptual approaches image-making practices in the city were discerned.  Different types of efforts were categorized and critically analyzed underlying the contextual and critical approaches. The analysis reveals that efforts range from utilizing symbolism in contemporary imaging, to manifesting tradition-modernity in search for image identity, to addressing the global condition towards image making. The perceptual approach established empirical evidence by investigating users’ reactions to three notable office buildings that their design attempts to evoke a unique image.  This was supported by statements made by CEOs of architectural firms and development companies that reflected a promise towards image making in the architecture of Doha. A concluding critique is introduced to elucidate that while there are incessant attempts at image making, the practice of ‘cutting and pasting’ dominates in the absence of critical consciousness. Such a critique calls for avoiding ‘case by case decision making’ the urban governance in the city still adopts while engaging effective place making strategies.


Image making; Symbolism; Globalization; Scapes of flows; Architectural identity; Doha

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