A Qatar-based architectural firm is among 26 companies that have been selected for the long-list in a global design competition to transform a flour mill on Doha’s Corniche into a vast gallery and exhibition space.
More than 400 entries were submitted during the first rounds of the contest, according to a statement from Qatar Museums.
Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB), headed by renowned Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah, made the initial cut with its idea to reshape the industrial complex into the Art Mill project, which aims to be “one of the world’s leading cultural centers,” QM added.
AEB has worked on several high-profile buildings in Qatar, including Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel on The Pearl, Gulf Mall and the Barwa Al Sadd complex.
It will be up against other well-known international practices including Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which designed London’s iconic Shard building, and David Chipperfield Architects.
That firm has previously worked on the Neues Museum in Berlin and the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center in Alaska, among others.
For years, site under development has been used as warehouses and grain silos by Qatar Flour Mills, which is relocating to new, purpose-built facilities at the new Hamad Port.
The plan is to renovate and extend the industrial buildings to create a new cultural hub.
The 80,000 sq meter site will become gallery and exhibition space with a “contemporary design,” and will also include education and conference facilities, conservation and storage areas and dedicated family spaces.
The surrounding outside space will also be landscaped to integrate with the gallery, according to the design statement.
The hunt for a designer began in June this year, and is being led by Malcolm Reading Consultants.
The long-list was supposed to comprise 20 firms. However, due to the large number of applicants – 489 entries from 56 countries – bidding for the project, it has been lengthened to 26 contenders. A run-down of all those who have made it through the first round can be found here.
The selected firms come from countries including Spain, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and Canada.
When details of the project brief and international competition jury are released next month, the chosen firms will be asked to draw up their vision for the site and its links to Doha.
Then, in early 2016, the jury will pick just five firms to go forward to the next round. They will have to create more detailed concept designs for the conversion and extension of the Flour Mills’ structures, the organizers said.
A final winner is likely to be announced next spring, and work on the site could start in 2017.
In a statement, QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani said that the level of interest in the contest “surpassed our expectations.”
“We are grateful to be given this building (Qatar Flour Mills). In converting and reinventing it, we hope to feed the community with the latest cultural developments and artistic creations from around the world – as well as establishing a strong platform for the Arab world to present their work within Qatar’s international context.”
The artistic triangle of the MIA, National Museum and Art Mill complex, which will be within walking distance of one other, “will give our community a unique cultural offering combining art, architecture and urban design,” she added.