Fire Station is a contemporary art space committed to supporting artists through its artist in residence program as well as engaging the local communities in Qatar by providing opportunities and events, which include exhibitions and public programs.
Built in 1982, the Fire Station was previously the home of the first civil defense authority in Qatar, until late 2012. Repurposed in 2014 to host the Fire Station: Artist in Residence, Ibrahim Al-Jaida, the architect leading the project, has preserved the original details of the building and its tower. The Annex and extended building were additions to the original structure.
At the Fire Station, we provide facilities, production support, mentorships, and curatorial support. Residents are selected through an Open Call application process, after which an esteemed jury convenes to make a final selection of up to 20 artists.
The original station was built in 1982 as the civil defense and was occupied by the fire brigade, serving the community for over thirty years until the last fire engine evacuated the place in December of 2012. After that it was handed over to Qatar Museums to be repurposed for contemporary use. The Fire Station: Artist in Residence was created.
Qatar Museums was keen to preserve the original façade and many of its key features, thereby keeping much of the original integrity of the building intact. The design and renovation of the building was entrusted to renowned Qatari architect Ibrahim Al Jaidah who was commissioned to redesign the interior of the building to specifically cater to the needs of the resident artists.
The overall aesthetic of the building is raw, industrial, and minimalist. The design maintains an original honeycomb façade, one which is highly recognizable amongst the local community, and signifies the aim of “Bringing the Past into the Future”. Ibrahim Al Jeidah, the Qatari architect leading the project, has preserved the original details of the building and its tower: “Working on the Fire Station adaptive re-use project was very exciting for two reasons: first, as an art enthusiast I saw this project as a testament to the booming art scene in Qatar and second, as a practicing architect I perceived this project as a first formal acknowledgement of the importance to preserve early-modern architecture in Qatar. There are several early modern architectural masterpieces in Qatar, and Fire Station is one of them. Rehabilitation of the Fire Station into the Artist in Residence prompted preservation of few other buildings that date to the same period.
As this was the first ‘adaptive reuse’ space in Qatar of this kind, I travelled abroad to do research of similar architectural ventures for the same function. My goal was to preserve the original identity of the building; hence the annex building is designed in a simple minimalistic industrial manner so that it does not visually compete with the original building. I aimed to preserve the building’s original character and identity not only from the outside but also from within where we kept some original elements such as firemen’s pole. The project was to maintain its original name “Fire Station” and that is why the building kept so much of its original identity.”
Whilst the new building preserves many of its original features, the renovated areas include a café, art supply shop, cinema and other facilities for artists. The Fire Station garage, covering approx. 700 (sqm) has been converted into a dedicated exhibition space called “Garage Gallery” for artists to exhibit their works and productions in June every year. It also hosts multiple international exhibitions in during the rest of the year.