Nouvel presents designs for new museum
With a design inspired by the form of the desert rose, Jean Nouvel presented his plans Wednesday at MoMA in New York City for the new National Museum in Qatar.
Located on a 1.5 million-SF site at the south end of Doha’s Corniche the building takes the form of a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions, which encircle a large courtyard area and encompasses 430,000 SF of indoor space.
Designed to balance the Qatari culture and traditions with how the Gulf nation is rapidly changing and modernizing, the National Museum of Qatar’s program will feature entire walls that are cinematic displays and shelter oral-history presentations.
Appearing to grow from the ground, the tilting, interpenetrating disks that define the pavilions’ floors, walls and roofs, clad on the exterior in sand-colored concrete, suggest the bladelike petals of the desert rose, a mineral formation of crystallized sand found just below the desert’s surface.
The museum is a modern-day caravanserai, which is the traditional enclosed resting place that supported the flow of commerce, information and people across desert trade route, Nouvel said in a statement.
“From here you leave the desert behind, returning with treasured images that remain engraved on your memory,” he said. “The National Museum of Qatar will become the voice of a culture, delivering a message of modernity, metamorphosis and the beauty that happens when the desert meets the sea.”
The National Museum of Qatar building will provide 86,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, 21,500 square feet of temporary gallery space, a 220-seat auditorium, a 70-seat food forum / TV studio, two cafés, a restaurant and a museum shop. Separate facilities are provided for school groups and special guests. Staff facilities include a heritage research center, restoration laboratories, staff offices and collection processing and storage areas. A 1.2 million SF landscaped park that references a Qatari desert landscape will surround the museum.
The interlocking disks vary in curvature and diameter and are composed of steel truss structures assembled in a hub-and-spoke arrangement and are clad in glass-fiber, reinforced-concrete panels. Columns concealed within the vertical disks carry the loads of the horizontal disks to the ground.
Glazed facades fill the voids between the disks. Perimeter mullions are recessed into the ceiling, floor and walls, giving the glazing a frameless appearance when viewed from the outside. Deep, disk-shaped sun-breaker elements filter sunlight.
Like the exterior, the interior features interlocking disks. Floors are sand-colored polished concrete, while the vertical disk walls are clad in ‘stuc-pierre,’ a traditional gypsum- and lime-blended plaster formulated to imitate stone.
The museum galleries will be organized around three themes: the natural history of the Qatar peninsula, the social and cultural history of Qatar, and the history of Qatar, from the 18th century to the present.
The building, which is seeking LEED silver rating from the US Green Building Council, will include thermal buffer zones within the disk cavities to cool the structure, while the overhanging disks will shade the outdoor promenades and protect the interior from light and heat. Steel and concrete will be locally sourced and fabricated. The landscaping will feature sparse native vegetation with low-water consumption.