Alejandro Aravena's Santiago firm ELEMENTAL had the winning concept for the Qatar Art Mill Design Competition. Launched by Qatar Museums in 2015, the three-stage competition sought the architect who will convert an approximately 1 million square-foot flour mill into a new waterfront art museum for Doha Bay. Once built, the Art Mill will comprise between 60,000 m2 and 80,000 m2 of gross space (645,835 sq. ft. and 861,113 sq. ft.) to accommodate extensive education, conference and event spaces, as well as conservation handling and research.
The jury ultimately selected Elemental's concept for their design and environmental strategies for the site and its links to the surrounding city. Adam Khan Architects' concept was selected as the competition runner-up. Read on for more.
“ELEMENTAL’s concept design for the historic waterfront site in the centre of Doha took as its inspiration the rhythmic monumental grain silos that are the industrial legacy of the original Flour Mills on the site, which have produced bread for the State since the 1980s.”
Led by 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate Alejandro Aravena, Elemental worked alongside climate engineers Transsolar; Schlaich Bergermann structural engineers; and global design consultants Stantec.
“However, in a creative riff, the team added to the strict geometry of retained silos a looser grouping of new silos that will act as cooling chimneys circulating air through the site that extends spectacularly on three sides into Doha Bay.”
The international jury praised the winning concept as ‘a serene artwork, where the structure is the architecture’. The team’s environmental strategy was also praised for its understanding of the local climate.
The competition's original open call attracted 489 submissions from 56 countries, which were narrowed down to only 26 longlisted firms and then to eight top-notch finalists that included Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Atelier Bow-Wow, and EAA Emre Arolat Architecture, to name a few.
“Art Mill will be an international exemplar where art connects across cultures and boundaries,” Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, jury chair and Qatar Museums chairperson, stated on the winning concept. “ELEMENTAL's assured handling of space and scale in its treatment of the silos creates a memorable and original scheme that evokes a strong sense of calm. The team showed a love of simplicity in the use of humble materials, which will acquire a patina with age.”
Moving forward, ELEMENTAL will work alongside Qatar Museums to develop the initial concept design for the Art Mill.
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