Qatar is a peninsula surrounded by sea water. Its pulsing heart is Doha, the capital city situated exactly where desert and sea meet. In the last few decades Doha has radically changed, turning from a small fishermen village into one of the most dynamic cities in the world.
Ateliers Jean Nouvel won the competition for designing the architectural and iconic symbol of this young country on the Persian Gulf: the National Museum of Qatar. The project aims at telling the origins and history of Qatar and the designated location is nonetheless the point where everything started: the Al Thani family palace.
The architectural concept design focuses on showing what is hidden, on revealing a history that hasn’t had the chance to leave a trace behind yet. The architecture and structure of the museum symbolize the mysteries of the desert phenomena of concretion and crystallization, reproducing the stone petals of the desert rose. The selected materials (steel, glass, fiber concrete, acrylic resins) express a significant inclination towards the contemporary, tempered by the permanent contact with both desert and sea.
The result is a location of 40.000 square meters, including the 8.000 square meters dedicated to the permanent collection, the 2.000 square meters dedicated to temporary exhibitions and showcases. Next to them, a 220-seats auditorium, 2 restaurants, a café, 2 shops, a food forum, a R&S center and laboratories and also a big garden with native plants.
Devoto Design took also care of the fit-out of the food&leisure area, designed by the Japanese-Australian firm Koichi Takada architects.
The Qatari landscape influenced and marked the concept of the Interiors designed by Takada, reproducing the geometries and chromatism of the desert, its canyons and dunes.
In fact the Bookshop and the Gift Shop have a vertical proportion: high sinuous walls and narrow passageways that Devoto Design was asked to clad with curving horizontal solid oak strips. This skin, generating a fluid and unfurling movement, creates a massive wooden canyon that embraces the visitor and makes you feel like being in the desert. In this way, the canyon is not only a shell but a free-standing element itself. Some display islands are scattered in the middle of the shops, playing with the layout and offering the necessary exhibition stalls that a place dedicated to retail needs.