Jean Nouvel completes US$434m museum in Qatar

by Luke Cloherty | 26 Mar 2019
This is a total object: an experience that is at once architectural, spatial, and sensory, with spaces inside that exist nowhere else.
– Jean Nouvel

Cultural space developments in the Gulf region continue apace with the opening of a new US$434m (€383m, £328.7m) museum in Doha, Qatar.

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum resembles a desert rose and has been described as representing a kind of fantasy.

"To imagine a desert rose as a basis for a design was a very advanced idea, even a utopian one," said Nouvel.

He continued: "To construct a building with great curved disks, intersections, and cantilevered angles – the kind of shapes made by a desert rose – we had to meet enormous technical challenges. This building is at the cutting edge of technology, like Qatar itself.

"As a result, it is a total object: an experience that is at once architectural, spatial, and sensory, with spaces inside that exist nowhere else."

The 52,000 sq m (569,000 sq ft) structure is located on Doha's waterfront and its entrance sits behind 114 fountain sculptures in a 900-metre-long lagoon. The museum's roof, meanwhile, is made up of 76,000 shapes and resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle.

The interior offers 1,500m of gallery space and features a 19th-century carpet, which is embroidered with 1.5 million Gulf pearls, and the oldest Koran yet discovered in Qatar, which also dates back to that period.

Originally scheduled for 2016, the museum has been a decade-long project from concept to conclusion.

"On the basic level the museum represents Qatari identity which has really accelerated in the post-blockade environment," said Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst based in Washington DC.

Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim al-Thani, the museum's director, added: "This is a museum that narrates the story of the people of Qatar."

Doha  Qatar  National Museum of Qatar  Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani  Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah  Edouard Philippe  Sigurd Neubauer 
Cultural space developments in the Gulf region continue apace with the opening of a new US$434m (€383m, £328.7m) museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum resembles a desert rose and has been described as representing a kind of fantasy. "To imagine a desert rose as a basis for a design was a very advanced idea, even a utopian one," said Nouvel. He continued: "To construct
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The museum, which has been likened to a utopia, is built in the shape of a desert rose. / Image by Iwan Baan
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