Koichi Takada Architects Jean Nouvel Qatar museum architectureImage credit: Oscar Rialubin

The National Museum of Qatar, designed by Australian architect Koichi Takada and French architect Jean Nouvel, is finally complete.

The museum sits on a massive site spanning almost 140,000sqm at the south end of Doha’s Corniche. A landmark project for Qatar, it will be the first monument visible to people arriving from the airport.

Jean Nouvel designed the museum's exterior architecture, describing it as a symbol of “the mysteries of the desert’s concretions and crystallisations, suggesting the interlocking pattern of the bladelike petals of the desert rose”.

Koichi Takada designed the interior architecture, using forms and materials that respond to the exterior architecture. This includes the museum shops, Desert Rose Café, Café 875 and Jiwan Restaurant.

Koichi Takada Architects Jean Nouvel Qatar museum architecture
A render of the bookshop

According to Takada, the interior design was inspired by “desertscapes” and curated carefully to create a local experience for visitors.

“The architecture is a representation of the desert rose mineral formation; a connection to nature,” he says.

The interior architecture has also been designed to present a narrative of the Qatari history, embodying the beginnings of the trade, nomadic lifestyle and beautiful natural environment. According to Takada, it was through many conversations with the Qatari people that the designs evolved to translate a story into a visual design and memorable experience.

“Talking to H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa and to the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) has opened my eyes to a culturally rich way of life, which has inspired me,” he says.

Koichi Takada Architects Jean Nouvel Qatar museum architecture
Dahl Al Misfir was the inspiration for the museum shops

“They passionately talked about the iconic nature of Dahl Al Misfir (Cave of Light), located in the heart of Qatar, and introduced me to the ritual of majlis floor dining, a bit like my favourite childhood memory of Japanese tatami floor dining.

“Designing the interiors of the National Museum of Qatar 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 the cultural hub of the Middle East.”