The Dahl Al Misfir (Cave of Light), located in the heart of Qatar, is a beautiful underground sanctuary formed largely from fibrous gypsum crystals that give off a faint, moon-like, phosphorescent glow. Inspired by Dahl Al Misfir, the National Museum of Qatar Gift Shops echoes Koichi Takada’s vision of bringing nature back into architecture, establishing relationships that connect people and nature through design.
Using 3D modeling software, the shops are a three-dimensional puzzle, comprising 40,000 individual wooden pieces. Each piece, CNC-cut in Italy is entirely unique, fitting only with its exact complementary piece. The site assembly was an engineering and assembly challenges that was skilfully executed on-site by Italian master carpenter, Claudio Devoto and his team of artisans. The 40,000 pieces were individually en-coded with a visual number and guideline, assembled by hand, piece by piece without visual fixings.
The Museum Gift Shops are a culturally rich response to the National Museum of Qatar’s curatorial mission – Heritage meets Innovation. The intensity of the design and craftsmanship pays homage to Jean Nouvel's desert rose inspired architecture and celebrates the natural Qatari heritage of the desert-scape.
One of the biggest challenges was dealing with the complexity and monumental scale of the museum design, a 53,000 square-meter agglomeration of interlocking. There were no straight lines; all curved creating very complex spaces internally. Working within these parameters, the shop interiors reproduce the geometries and chromatism of the desert-inspired architecture on a human scale.
The National Museum of Qatar was also the first national museum in the world to receive both a LEED Gold and a 4-STAR (Global Sustainability Assessment System) sustainability rating. The shop interiors were constructed from European Oak, a conscious decision because of its renewable green credentials that aligned with the sustainable goals of the museum.