The National Museum of Qatar Gift Shops

Designed by: Koichi Takada Architects
For client: Qatar Museums Authority Floor area: 271.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for:

About the Project

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 (Cave of Light), 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 modelling 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 were skillfully executed on-site by Italian carpenter. 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. 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.

What’s unique about it

The Museum Gift Shops are an innovative, emotional and culturally rich response to the National Museum of Qatar’s curatorial mission – Heritage meets Innovation. The design for the Gift Shops represents a visually unique example of architecture and retail design that is culturally rooted and sympathetic to the local environment, human experience and place. Designing the interior spaces was an opportunity to create a unique experience for visitors to immerse in Qatar’s cultural heritage; the traditional and historical past, and its development into a modern state as a cultural & innovation hub of the Middle East. A highly conceptional design, modern technologies enabled the delivery of a truly unique space. Cutting-edge 3D modelling software and a dedicated team of artisans allowed for the concept to be fully realised, achieving the impossible that was at times considered ‘unbuildable’. The artisan quality of the hand-assembled timber pieces and bespoke nature of the design and construction also celebrates a shift towards a more human-centric design approach, both in the quality of the spaces, but also how visitors engage and interact with space. This was always a strong agenda leading the design direction. As a practise, there was a great responsibility to learn and carefully reflect the local culture and traditions of Qatar within the design so that people visiting the museum could experience this first-hand.

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