ELEMENTAL wins Qatar’s Art Mill International Design Competition

Jury praises serene artwork 'where the structure is the architecture'

1 (C) Malcolm Reading Consultants And Elemental
Image © ELEMENTAL/Malcolm Reading Consultants

Qatar Museums announced today [15 May 2017] that the Chile-based practice, ELEMENTAL, has won the Art Mill International Design Competition, a global search to find an outstanding team to design one of the world’s leading cultural centres.

ELEMENTAL was selected by an international jury, from 26-strong longlist, based on their strategies for the site and its links to the city. 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. 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 concept design was praised by the international jury 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. ELEMENTAL is led by Alejandro Aravena, the 2016 Pritzker Prize Laureate, and supported by climate engineers, Transsolar; structural engineers, Schlaich Bergermann; and global design consultants, Stantec.

Gifted with one of the most spectacular and historic sites in the centre of Doha, the Art Mill will be pre-eminent in Doha’s waterfront ensemble of institutions dedicated to art and is expected to become one of the world’s leading cultural centres.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, and jury chair said:

‘Art Mill will be an international exemplar where art connects across cultures and boundaries. 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.
‘We are hugely appreciative of the interest shown by the international architectural community in the project and would like to thank the long-list and the finalist teams for their work during the competition.’

Professor Harry Gugger, special Adviser to Qatar Museums and competition juror said:

‘The competition reached out to some of the most extraordinary talents working in architecture today and ELEMENTAL, known for their social buildings, won in brilliant fashion, being both inventive and indefatigable. ELEMENTAL’s wonderful design proves once again that competitions get the best out of architectural practices.’

ELEMENTAL will now work with Qatar Museums to develop the initial concept design. A gallery of all eight shortlisted designs, including the runner-up Adam Khan Architects, will be published by the competition organisers, Malcolm Reading Consultants.

The competition was hugely successful; the original open call attracted great interest from the international design community with 489 submissions received from 56 countries.

More information can be found on the competition website.