Bernadette Baird-Zars | March 23, 2010
I’m no architect, but Jean Nouvel’s latest design for Doha seems to provide a needed push to the current envelope of the well-worn reincarnations of ‘Islamic’ arches, ‘layers of privacy’, mashrabiyyas, and whatever other token/’classic’ design elements now repetitively stamped across the new symbolic buildings of the Middle East.
But, while the birds-eye-view of the ‘sand rose’ crystalline formation of the roofs is striking, it makes me wonder if the museum is just another example of a ‘rendering’ building – structures where the most impressive view is from far away, somewhere in the distant sky of a computer projection or a postcard, and not where any human will approach and interact with the building. Then again, perhaps a postcard, and an aerial photo are just as valid methods for experiencing and being moved by form. What do the architects think?
Finally, I’m just a bit skeptical as to how a bricks-and-mortar building can communicate impermanence, and stones-the-color-of-sand will imbue visitors with a sense of their past and the desert, not to mention some sense of the importance of oral narratives in the Beduin culture. Why not have a series of installations all about town, with stories being told – and produced – on the benches and buses? What types of activities will be programmed into the spaces such that visitors can feel part of an ongoing story, not just a ‘finished’ past?
All that said, it still looks like it will be a fabulously beautiful building. Perhaps I just need to visit to become convinced.