Qatar's Oxygen Park is the perfect antidote to the desert heat

A new park in Doha's Education City, especially designed by Aecom and inspired by the desert environment, offers an innovative natural space and a much needed ‘green lung' to the local community

oxygen park qatar aerial
Oxygen Park sits in Education City, in the outskirts of Doha, Qatar
(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)

In the outskirts of Doha, nestled low, next to soaring landmark architecture such as OMA's National Library and Qatar Foundation Headquarters, sits a new green, open space. Designed by Aecom, Oxygen Park was conceived as an important 'green lung' for Education City, the Qatari capital's university and learning quarter. 

Sitting in the heart of a campus with students from over 50 countries, the park was designed to not only provide an urban connection between different parts of the wider area, but also create a verdant landscape for people to walk, exercise and rest in.  

Helping the health and wellbeing of its users and the local community were a key goal for the design team. Aecom responded by creating an area that unites provisions for different kinds of activities in a carefully composed whole. There's a track for running, and bespoke benches to rest, open areas and subterranean pitches to play and sheltered parts to hide from the region's intense summer sun. The park is a composition of series of sub-areas, open and closed, green and built. 

Qatar’s Oxygen Park, curved grass and concrete pathways, framed by ground and tall balloon shaped lights, sculpturally designed landscape with trees and grass verges, with buildings in the distance against a grey sky

(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)

‘From a conceptual point of view, designing a park is not that different to a building,' explains Aecom creative director and architect Erik Behrens. ‘It starts with a programme and idea driving the logic of form and organization. Parks are inevitably outdoors, and they are always in a particular geography, they each have very different climates and temperatures and are bound to ecological processes.'

This, Behrens, acknowledges is also true for buildings, and research and open mind in both cases is key. ‘In the case of Oxygen Park, we spent over a week in the desert learning about the principles of dynamic land formations and the beauty of wind-eroded rocks. In combining this with the programmatic components and vegetation, the design of this park emerged,' he continues. 

Looking to the Qatari natural landscape for clues was critical. ‘We drew our inspiration from the wind-eroded rocks and fluid land formations in Qatar,' says Behrens. ‘Oxygen Park is designed to convey a beautiful and fluid surface; its undulations enable it to flow effortlessly as ground, roof, wall, and ceiling.'

At the same time, a specially designed night time lighting scheme makes the park available after dark too, when temperatures are cooler.

Oxygen park Qatar curved design underpass, white and red striped pathway and reflective patterned stone walls. grass and trees through an opening in the distance

(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)

Oxygen park Qatar curved roof, glass fronted pavilion, lit up with interior lighting, rows of white and brown seating, man walking by, grass verge and trees surrounding the building, against a blue. grey sky

(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)

Night time image of oxygen park Qatar's walkway, brick walls, curved design with spot lighting, stone steps to the left, guiding light around the edge of the wall, neutral stone slab path with red stripe and grass verge to the right

(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)

Grass area, white and red stripe pathway and two white stone blocks in front of the Oxygen park Qatar waterfall, joggers running on the inside of the waterfall along another pathway which blurs out their image, tall tree tops in the distance

(Image credit: Markus Elblaus)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from