Alejandro Aravena’s Santiago-based firm ELEMENTAL is the official winner of an international competition to convert a nearly 1-million-square-foot flour mill into a new museum and cultural center on the Doha, Qatar, waterfront.
Beating out seven other short-listed firms including Renzo Piano Building Workshop and runner-up Adam Khan Architecture, ELEMENTAL’s vision for the Art Mill Qatar is “a serene artwork where the structure is architecture,” according to the jury. Slated to become a future global art destination, Art Mill will include a gallery and exhibition space as well as ample education, conference and event spaces. It will also accommodate state-of-the-art conservation handling and research.
In June 2015, Qatar Museums hosted an open call for the museum’s design, which will sit on the historic grounds of Flours Mills Qatar, a bread production facility that has supplied bread to the state since the 1980s. A series of stunning, monumental grain silos already exists on the site that evokes the traditional architecture of the region. Large monolithic structures, they complement I.M. Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) to the west.
Image via Doha News
ELEMENTAL chose to mimic the strict geometry of the original mills by creating a looser grouping of new silos at the south end of the site. These will not only add another strikingly rhythmic visual to the waterfront, but also serve as cooling chimneys and help circulate air throughout the 898,787-square-foot site. A massive sloped plaza will increase from the ground plane adjacent to the mills, doubling as the roof of the museum complex and auditorium that looks out over Doha Bay.
According to the competition brief, the site’s reinvention “as a place generating cultural rather than physical sustenance” is a missing jigsaw piece to complete the public realm around a pivotal civic quarter in Doha. It adjoins the MIA park and is a short walk from Doha’s world famous Corniche, a promenade that extends for several kilometers along the bay.
ELEMENTAL worked with climate engineers Transsolar, structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann and global design consultants Stantec to conceive the project. The team will work alongside Qatar Museums to further develop the initial concept design.
With news of ELEMENTAL’s upcoming project, Doha — Qatar’s capital city — is quickly shaping up to becoming an international cultural hot spot, attracting large-scale pieces of architecture from major firms around the world. The latest project to break ground, Jean Nouvel’s interlocking disc design for the National Museum of Qatar, is already headed toward completion.