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 Gift Shops 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.
Interview with Koichi Takada
“How would you judge Devoto Design’s approach to the project?”
“Throughout the project delivery of Museum shops and Café 875 (project name: Nomad Café), we were impressed with the commitment and execution of the carpentership and technical skills displayed by Claudio Devoto and his team. Their attention to details were particularly good considering the scale and complexity of timber works. We appreciated Devoto Design because they care for quality and are as passionate as we are at Koichi Takada Architects about great design.”
“How was Devoto Design supportive and cooperative with KTA’s team?”
“Claudio Devoto is the great master carpenter and is such a pleasure to work with. His team has been very supportive of our design requests and worked seamlessly with the team of Koichi Takada Architects. The visit to Devoto Design’s factory in Rome was one of the highlights and Devoto Design prepared 1:1 mock ups of all the spaces to make sure that we were all on the same page including our clients. With this visit, Koichi Takada and his team gained valuable knowledge and confidence by working closely with Devoto Design. With any tricky joinery details, we pushed ourselves to think outside the box and together we always came up with the design and manufacturing solutions that are unique to this project. Devoto Design’s’s quality and technical support is well documented from their past projects working with the likes of late Zaha Hadid, Fukusas, and Jean Nouvel. We enjoyed working closely with Devoto Design and their passion and great care for the project gave us strong confidence in delivering the quality outcome both off and on site.”
“Would you say that the result represents KTA’s initial idea and design?”
“Yes very much so. It is always great to see our vision turning into reality and the reality looks better than the computer renderings.”
“Are you happy with the final result?”
“Yes. We are very happy with the result and would like to congratulate Claudio Devoto and his team for the great achievement together. Thank you so much.”
“What was the best thing Devoto Design did for this project?”
“We were satisfied with Devoto Design’s methodology of engineering how to put together the three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles of 40,000 pieces of wooden panel. This methodology enabled us to translate our three-dimensional computer model into accurate representation in reality. We were also thankful of all close communication on site and the team of Devoto Design was very open to discuss and resolve the tricky details and junctions of the Museum shops during construction on site. Without the craftsmanship and great depth of knowledge on timber works demonstrated by the master carpenter, Caludio Devoto, this would not have been possible.”