Chilean architects win competition to design Qatar’s huge Art Mill gallery

Elemental will convert the waterfront flour mill into an 80,000 sq. m space for exhibitions and storage

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The Chilean architectural practice Elemental has won the competition to convert a former flour mill on the coast of Doha Bay, known as the Art Mill, into a vast new gallery for Qatar Museums. The Santiago-based company beat off eight other finalists to design the new space, which is located east of the Museum of Islamic Art.

According to the competition brief announced by Malcolm Reading Consultants, the Art Mill will measure up to 80,000 sq. metres and "predominantly" comprise gallery and exhibition space. To put the Doha flour mill into perspective, London's Tate Modern, which is housed in a former power station, measures around 55,000 sq. metres of internal 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 spaces. A spokeswoman for Qatar Museums declined to comment on the purpose of the new venue, and whether it will house Qatar's Modern and contemporary art collection or host international loan exhibitions. 

Art Mill concept design by Elemental (© Malcolm Reading Consultants and Elemental)

The flour mill includes numerous grain silos. “In a creative riff, the [Elemental] team added to the strict geometry of retained silos a looser grouping of new silos that will act as cooling chimneys circulating air through the site that extends spectacularly on three sides into Doha Bay,” a project statement says. 

No opening date has been announced but key cultural projects are expected to be completed in time for the football World Cup which takes place in Doha in 2022.