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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Museum of Islamic Arts, Doha, Qatar

The new Museum of Islamic Arts, Qatar opens its doors
Today marks the opening of the new Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha, Qatar. Veteran architect I M Pei designed the new development, which was commissioned by the rulers of Qatar - the al-Thani family, in what is believed to be his last ‘statement,’ building. The 45,000m2 building is located on purpose-built island at the Southern end of Doha bay, and while the exterior was finished in 2006 the museum itself has taken until now to open. The development is the first of its kind in the Persian Gulf and will house an extensive collection of Islamic art, plus a study, library and several restaurants.

The exterior of the museum is made up of a dramatic pile of white limestone shapes, and its design is inspired and derived from Islamic architecture, with its innate sense of intricate geometric patterns. The resulting structure takes the form of a series of square and octagonal blocks stacked on top of one another, culminating in a central tower. Inside the museum the various galleries are located around a towering atrium, capped with a dome.

The island that the museum sits on was purpose built at the request of I M Pei, as he didn’t want the building to become surrounded or hemmed in by new constructions, “Even a beautiful piece of work can be overshadowed or destroyed by something else,” he stated in a recent interview. It was his intent to create a building that embodies the essence of Islamic architecture, and in that task at least, he appears to have succeeded.

John Edwards
architecture NOW

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