“A marvellous story unfolding in every little corner” is Marcel Wanders’ curious description of the Mondrian Doha, a 24-story skyscraper recently added to the skyline of Doha, Qatar’s capital and biggest city. The famous Dutch designer produced all the furnishings and much of the interior decoration, but South West Architecture (SWA) of Doha came up with the plans for the building itself and its cladding, made entirely with materials by Fabbrica Marmi e Graniti (FMG) of the Iris Ceramica Group.
This ambitious hospitality project began in 2011 under the impetus of SBE, the real estate colossal that operates hotels, residences, restaurants and luxury venues all over the world, and operator of the well-known Morgans Hotel Group, which includes the Mondrian Doha.
The skyscraper in Doha’s West Bay Lagoon, located right across from the artificial island of The Pearl-Qatar in one of the fastest-growing areas in this rapidly expanding capital city, is the most recent in a list of new luxury hotels designed for an international clientele of tourists and business travelers.
The Mondrian Doha features 211 rooms; 59 suites; a spectacular 21,528-square-foot ballroom with a 24-karat gold elevator and separate spas for men and women; 12 venues, including bars and restaurants (such as Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, making its debut in Qatar, Masaharu Morimoto’s Japanese cuisine and Walima’s traditional Middle Eastern cuisine); spaces specifically intended for couples; a heated experience garden; relaxation rooms with heated daybeds and a traditional Turkish hammam, the first of its kind in the city; and under the imposing glass dome on the top floor, a swimming pool with a bar and a panoramic view over the West Bay.
Going back to Marcel Wanders’ definition regarding all the stories intertwined in the skyscraper, the project for decoration of the Mondrian Doha, implemented with SWA, draws on local knowledge, history, styles and figures, reworked in the light of today’s sentiments and lifestyles, and above all, translated using materials and working techniques drawing on the most advanced international experience.
Every space has an identity of its own, allowing guests to put together a set of stories revolving around one main story about Arab culture, incorporating custom-designed furnishings and coverings based on local models, Middle Eastern writing and the imagery of the Suk translated into gigantic columns with golden eggs, a "tree of life " made up of flowers, ornamental glass and floral mosaics in the flooring.
The indoor and outdoor cladding, floors and special pieces were made by FMG, starting with the porcelain ventilated facade embracing the outside of the entire height of the tower. Around 161,459 square feet of 60- x 120-cm slabs from FMG’s Pietre Parana collection in the color “Parana Beige” wrap around the building to form two huge falcon wings.
The falcon is a recurrent symbol in the iconography of the project, given its cultural significance. The hotel entrance is modelled to look like the beak of a bird of prey, while the podium is covered with a bird’s nest pattern, which was produced using large-format polished slabs from FMG’s Maxfine Chromocode 3D collection in the color “Titanium White;” around 43,056 square feet of 300- x 150-cm slabs were used, and another 32,292 square feet of the 100- x 100-cm format was used.
The interiors of the Mondrian Doha draw on the same sources of inspiration as the exterior, adding more significance and amplifying the experience of a holiday in the Middle East with all the comforts westerners demand. FMG coverings dictate the style and taste of every room and suite, as well as the bathrooms. About 231,424 square feet of Statuario Venato-inspired maxi-slabs from the Maxfine collection and 21,528 square feet of honed surfaces from the Pietre Ardesia collection in the color “Ardesia Nera” define the luxurious living spaces with bold color contrasts, while 43,056 square feet of 15- x 120-cm strips from the Lignum collection in the colors “Lignum Red” and “Lignum Brown” underline the natural wood to add domestic warmth to the restaurant area.
Polished slabs from FMG’s Maxfine Chromocode3D in “Titanium White” and “Ivory Black” create an impressive effect in public areas such as the lobbies, where spectacular floral patterns designed by SWA are created with waterjet cutting on a 16,146-square-foot surface. An additional 10,764 square feet of 60- x 60-cm tiles from the same collection were used for the pool area. The podium and spa feature 32,000 customized ceramic mosaic tiles in gold, platinum and bright white finishes.
Numerous custom-designed pieces were produced in partnership with the Iris Ceramica Group’s product development laboratory, including 15,000 special-themed pieces measuring 15 x 15 cm, illustrating the passions and traditions of Qatar, including the falcon, racehorses, camel races, the tradition of the Shisha, Aladdin’s lamp, the mosque and characteristic Middle Eastern imagery.
On the top floor, under the dome, is a spectacular swimming pool with views over the entire bay, with a majestic spiral staircase rising four floors up to a panoramic rooftop platform.
The Mondrian Doha marks a milestone in the exponential growth of Qatar, where radical modernity is of great international interest for its ability to preserve the traces of history. The West appreciates this quality, both for tourism and trade, and Qatar’s architectural projects seem to want to interpret the trend, adding a component of luxury that goes farther and farther with every new project, attracting the wealthiest clients from all over the world.
The Mondrian Doha sets a new standard that others will aim to beat in terms of technology, comfort, luxury and imagination. It is a project produced by a partnership between East and West, in a new scenario for life and entertainment that is halfway between two hemispheres and is not set in a particular geographic location, but creates and occupies spaces that did not exist before, such as Qatar’s artificial islands.
Architect: South West Architecture, Doha, Qatar