THE DESERT ROSE: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR

The National Museum of Qatar, Jean Nouvel, Doha

“Concept not form, is what distinguishes architecture from mere building”(Bernard Tshumi).

The National Museum of Qatar’s project is based on architect Jean Nouvel’s conception of Middle East landscape and traditions. It aims to be a groundbreaking center of culture and communication in the south edge of Cornice, Doha.

Jean Nouvel, awarded with the Pritzker Prize in 2008 –comparable in architecture to the Nobel Prize- brought forward in the New York MOMA museum in 2010 a project of the museum, which puts together Western high-technology with Persian Gulf traditions. The building’s design is inspired by the rosette formation known as desert rose and the caravansaries, the desert nomads’ shelters, establishing a vast construction with more than four hundred thousand square meters.

The well-known French architect has been in charge of more than two hundred edifices in the past forty years, placed in Europe, Asia and America, thanks to his ability to design with consistency and courage, always adapting his constructions to the region of the world where he is working. He is the author of some of the most significant buildings in the Contemporary History; specifically in Spain his most outstanding projects are the Agbar tower in Barcelona and the building extension of the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid. His buildings integrate themselves in the environment shaking up dogmas and recreating the city’s personality.

The National Museum of Qatar’s structure reminds of the different layers, made of gypsum, water and sand, which crystallize in the desert producing desert roses. The petals from this kind of stones are represented in the building by several iron discs with diverse dimensions and curvatures, coated by armed concrete in sand color. By contrast, the walls from the inside part of the building are covered by a traditional gypsum which imitates stone pattern, creating a space inspired by the inside part of the Bedouins tents.

In addition to the construction complete integration with desert landform, Nouvel proposes a sustainable design. Large glass pieces will join the diverse discs, in that way the glazed areas will allow filtering diversely the sunlight depending on the temperature required by every different part of the building. Moreover, the external garden will respect the regional flora since it is already used to water shortage, such as palm trees, cactus or pas or native pasture.

Waiting to see the complex finished, the National Museum of Qatar’s project created by Jean Nouvel promises to turn into an architectural landmark in Middle East, paradigm of fusion between East and West, architecture and nature, tradition and technological advances. A new rose in the desert of Qatar, a city that longs to become a cultural reference in the Gulf.

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