The shortlist for the Art Mill International Design Competition has been narrowed down to eight from 26 with the winning design, to be announced in the autumn, it is hoped will redefine museum architecture

The Art Mill on Doha’s waterfront will join an ensemble of institutions dedicated to art and is expected to become one of the world’s leading cultural centres. The site, which extends into the Arabian Sea on three sides, adjoins the park around IM Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art, and is close to Jean Nouvel’s forthcoming National Museum of Qatar (currently under construction).

It was until recently occupied by Qatar Flour Mills and is historically significant as a key node within the Arabian Gulf port – essential for the import of grain. The new art museum will focus on audience engagement and the young demographic in Qatar.

The eight competition finalists were selected by the international jury. Including Sir John Leighton, Director-General, National Galleries of Scotland, from the second stage, 26-strong longlist on the basis of their strategies for the site and its links to the city. The jury met over two days last month in Doha to analyse and review the teams’ drawings, narratives and models.
The competition’s original open call for interest (the first stage) attracted great interest from the international design community with 489 submissions received from 56 countries.

Finalist practices (alphabetical order):

• Adam Khan Architects (UK)
• Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan)
• EAA Emre Arolat Architecture (Turkey)
• Elemental (Chile)
• junya.ishigami + associates (Japan)
• Mangado & Asociados (Spain)
• Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Italy)
• Rice+Lipka Architects (US)

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“The long-list was distinguished by some of the most talented architects practising today – and it is in recognition of this that we have expanded the shortlist from the five originally envisaged to eight,” said Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums. “The competition reached out to designers working in very different contexts and communities. So we are delighted that the practices who persuaded the jury through their concept drawings and models reflect this diversity. They bring international perspectives as well as cultural sensitivity to this inspirational project for Qatar.”

Sheikha Al Mayassa said the project offered a chance to redefine museum architecture, to crystallise the very latest thinking on audience engagement, technology and environmental strategies.“The museum experience in Doha is a special one,” she said. “We have a young demographic, and the habit of bringing the family to the museum, enjoying the grounds and amenities at weekends, has caught on across our society.”

The eight finalist practices will now be given a further briefing and progress onto more detailed concept designs for the Art Mill, which is conceived as a vibrant and multi-layered civic and cultural presence, a focus for the emerging campus of museums and cultural institutions at the eastern end of the Corniche.

It is anticipated that jury interviews with the shortlisted practices will take place in early autumn 2016, with the winner announced shortly afterwards.

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The view from the former flour mill of IM Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art. The Art Mill will redevelop the site of the flour mills on Doha’s corniche and turn them into a new art museum. Photograph Qatar Museums