21 December 2008

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Back in Doha for work and went to see the recently opened Museum of Islamic Art designed by I M Pei.

This has to be the most significant museum building to be recently built anywhere in the Middle East.

For designing this building Pei did some extensive travelling in this part of the world and makes lot of references to significant buildings of what can broadly be categorized as buildings making up an 'Islamic tradition in Architecture' and arrives to this stunning building that exceeds in quality both spatially and visually anything to be built here in the recent mad building rush that has taken over the Middle East.
This new museum sits on its own island in Doha bay creating a focal point for the corniche area of the city. Coincidentally the only other impressive building of the city - i.e. the Sheraton hotel also sits along the same stretch of the city and also has a pyramidal form. The following sequence of photos show building from various angles as you enter the museum from the main road along the corniche :
The above photo shows the museum rising on its own island as the city rapidly grows in the background in an area called West Bay.

And once you enter the building you find yourself in a large atrium space below the main pyramidal volume that culminates in a stainless steel dome with an oculus lighting up this huge space. All the main galleries of the museum can be accessed from this space.

Towards the North of this main space you can see the tall towers of West Bay.

The museum is made up of two main volumes - the pyramid and a smaller educational block to its east separated by an open air courtyard from where you can get great views of the city around.

And as night falls the building glows like a gem in the sea.
This building truly has undoubtedly achieved what it set out to do - to but Doha on the cultural map with a Bang!!
Check the museum's website to get a rough idea of their amazing collection of Islamic Art here -http://www.mia.org.qa/english/index.html

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