Jean Nouvel The Desert Rose National Museum of Qatar

Jean Nouvel,

Iwan Baan, Danica Kus,

Doha, Qatar,


Starting on March 28, the first spectators have been trying out the immersive experience offered by the new National Museum of Qatar designed by architect Jean Nouvel, officially inaugurated on the evening of March 27 by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Jean Nouvel The Desert Rose National Museum of Qatar

The new National Museum of Qatar designed by Jean Nouvel opened recently. Starting on March 28, 2019 the public can enjoy an immersive experience to find out more about the country and the challenges facing it in the future. The museum takes visitors on a voyage through the unique environment and history of Qatar, achieved through a successful combination of architecture and experiences involving all five senses, with music, poetry, oral narration, and evocative aromas as well as exhibitions of archaeological artefacts, exhibits representing the cultural heritage of Qatar and new artworks commissioned specifically for the museum.
The new building covers 52000 sqm around the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani; a building constructed in 1906 which first housed the royal family and then the government before becoming a national monument and one of the local population’s best-loved symbols of Qatar. The project transforms the existing palace into the conclusive element at the culmination of the museum tour, which includes eleven permanent galleries.

The building’s unusual geometric construction is inspired by the "desert rose", which French architect Jean Nouvel describes as "the first architectural structure, created by nature itself". The "desert rose" is a mineral formation that occurs naturally in Qatar. The building’s sand colour makes the parallel perfect, and, like the mineral formation, the museum appears to rise directly out of the earth in harmony with the typical colours of the desert.
The disks of which it is composed are made with a variety of different diameters and inclinations to surround the historical building and form a central courtyard or Baraha, used for outdoor cultural events and meetings. These disks come together to create natural shade, improving the building’s energy performance and qualifying it as the first museum to be awarded both LEED Gold certification and the four sustainability stars awarded by the Global Sustainability Assessment System. The irregularly shaped volumes leading off of the structure to form continuous interwoven disks represented an important technical challenge. Architect Jean Nouvel calls the museum “ a total object: an experience that is at once architectural, spatial, and sensory, with spaces inside that exist nowhere else".

The exhibition route inside the museum is organised into three chapters: "Beginnings", "Life in Qatar" and "The Modern History of Qatar", in eleven exhibition galleries covering the entire timeline from the geological eras before human settlement up to modern times. Exhibits and visitors are surrounded by an immersive experience thanks to artistic short films made specifically for the museum by prominent directors, filmed in Qatar using advanced technology and projected right on the curved walls of the galleries.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Architects: AtelierJean Nouvel – Jean Nouvel, Stéphane Martin
Management : Hafid Rakem (Area Manager), Éric Maria (General Manager), Brian Wait (Project Delivery Manager – Studies)
Location: Doha Qatar

Cost Consultant: MDA Consulting & Northcroft
Engineers: ARUP London
Renaud Pierard (Museography), Ducks Scéno – Michel Cova (Scenography), Bcs & Ingphi (Facades), Scherler (Interior Lighting), Aik (Exterior Lighting), Avel Acoustique (Acoustics), Pentagram-London (Signage), Atlas (Specifications), Aecom (Landscape Engineering), Gehry Technology (BIM Management), Licht-Kunst-Licht (Museographic Lighting), Ducks Scéno – Labeyrie & Associés, Immersive (Museographic Multimedia), Art+Com, Opera Amsterdam (Particular Exhibition), Scherler Sa (Landscape Electricity), B+S Sa (Landscape Civil Engineer), Pierre Edelman (Film Consultant), Qdc (Architect Of Record), Aecom & Parsons (Roads Design), Mohammed Ali Abdulla (Heritage Consultant), L’observatoire International – Hervé Descottes (Lighting Design: Exterior, Landscape, Exterior Artworks)

Images courtesy of National Museum of Qatar,
photos exterior by © Iwan Baan
photos interior by © Danica Kus

2018 : MIPIM in « Best futura project »
2018 : LEED GOLD Certification
2018 : GSAS 4 Star Certification from Gulf Organisation of Research & Development (GORD –GSAS Authority)