It gets pretty hot in Qatar. In summer, temperatures can hit 47 °C, hot enough to make any outdoor event – like, say, the 2022 FIFA World Cup – a pretty uncomfortable experience.
This could have proved problematic for the designers of a new outdoor shopping complex at Doha's Katara Cultural Village, too. But they've come up with a solution: they're going to install outdoor air conditioning in the centre's main plaza. Because that's not an insane idea.
Outdoor air conditioning is actually becoming quite a big thing in Doha. This year, it was installed in the fan area of the Aspire Track Zone football stadium, as a trial for using similar technology at the World Cup.
The same system will be used in the shopping centre, at what developers the Albi Bin Ali group claim will be the first outdoor air conditioned plaza in the world.
Here's how it works: air sucked in from outside is passed through an underground evaporative cooler, which lowers its temperature through condensation. Then, the air is passed over the water again, to cool it further, and passed out through grills onto the plaza, up to a height of about 2m.
The creators of the technology, Air2O, claim the method uses only 47 per cent of the energy used in conventional air conditioning units. However, its effectiveness relies on external conditions: on a very windy day, for example, the cooled air could be swept away much more quickly, making the whole thing far less efficient.
A spokesperson for the Ali Bin Ali group told us the system "is intended to keep the walking areas cool in extreme weather conditions, so as to provide a comfortable outdoor conditions for the visitors".
Oh, and they're also planning to build a special "children's shopping centre" shaped like a giant wrapped present:
Image: Ali Bin Ali Group.
In for a penny.