Qatar Museums to create vast Art Mill area on Doha waterfront

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Qatar plans to convert a vast flour mill and its grain silos into spaces for art and to house Qatar Museums varied and growing collections. The waterfront site is across Doha Bay from the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art and close to Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar, which is under construction.

Qatar Museums launched today, 1 June, an international competition to find an architect to convert the industrial buildings into what it calls the Art Mill. Organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, the competition winner is due to be announced in spring 2016. Work could start in 2017. The detailed brief and the budget for the project are due to be announced later this year, says Malcolm Reading, who declines to say whether the Art Mill will house Qatar’s Modern and contemporary art collection or host international loan exhibitions.

According to the competition brief the Art Mill will measure up to 80,000 sq. metres and “predominantly” comprise of gallery and exhibition space. The project also includes a conservation centre and museum storage “to match the diversity of the collection” as well as education, conference and event space.

The flour mill, a landmark on the Doha waterfront, includes numerous grain silos. Some of the internal spaces are monumental in character and many have high ceilings and large floor areas. To put the Doha flour mill into perspective, London’s Tate Modern, which is housed in a former power station, measures 34,000 sq. metres, including the Turbine Hall. When its extension is complete by the end of 2016 it will have around 55,000 sq. metres of internal space. Qatar sponsored Tate Modern’s blockbuster Damien Hirst exhibition in 2012.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s 5,500 sq. metre museum of Modern Arab art, Mathaf, is housed in a converted school building on the edge of Doha’s Education City, a 25 minute drive from the Museum of Islamic Art.