In 2015 Qatar Museums launched an international competition for the rehabilitation of the city’s flour mill complex—a monumental facility located in the Doha harbor— into a major cultural center. The Art Mill, as it will be known, is one piece in a larger cultural program for Doha and is located near I.M. Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art, and Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar.
The Art Mill will occupy a prominent position in the harbor, connected to a system of waterfront parks and public spaces, including Doha’s corniche, a waterfront promenade that extends along the coastline.
The purpose of the studio will be to reimagine a public landscape that will transform this part of Doha Harbor to reflect new uses while at the same time drawing inspiration from Islamic culture to form the basis of a new paradigm for public space for Doha.
For the past several decades the Qatari government has invested in large-scale projects in order to modernize Doha and elevate it to the status of global city. The Art Mill belongs to this initiative. More recently, however, motivated by the knowledge of limited oil resources in the short term, the government updated their strategy towards more delicate and calibrated interventions that offer a vision of the future that is also mindful of the past. Within the constellation of projects built and planned, the Art Mill continues to be understood as a catalyst for the renovation of the harbor and its related landscapes. As such, it presents a unique opportunity to revisit aspects of the Islamic tradition that directly influence the design of public landscapes. At the same time, the location of Doha in the center of both oceanic and air currents, and its sub-tropical desert ecosystem present opportunities to mobilize natural resources to mitigate the harsh climatic conditions. The studio will thus operate at the intersection of the cultural and the natural at several scales, from small urban spaces that engage local cultural traditions in a qualitative way to the environmental scale that will harness wind, water, solar radiation, and natural flows to inform design. Specifically, both the domestic and the urban scale, steeped in Islamic traditions, will filter environmental resources through delicate and complex ‘skins’ that will mediate a sense of interiority with the harshness of the climate outside.
The studio meets on an irregular schedule. Studio meetings will take place on the following Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2-6pm: February 8-9, February 22-23 (also available Feb 24), March 9 (also available March 10), March 11-18 (Studio trip to Doha), March 29-30 (also available March 31), April 12-13 (also available April 14).