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Exclusive: Adam Khan pipped by Aravena to Doha gallery job

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Adam Khan Architects has narrowly missed out on winning one of the architecture world’s most sought-after projects – a massive new waterfront gallery in Qatar

The UK-based practice was named as the runner-up in the global competition to design the landmark 93,000m2 Art Mill gallery in Doha Bay, losing to man-of-the-moment Alejandro Aravena and his Chilean studio ELEMENTAL.

The 2016 Pritzker Prize winner and curator of last year’s Venice Biennale saw off nearly 500 practices from 56 different countries in the three-stage contest, which was launched almost two years ago by Malcolm Reading Consultants.

ELEMENTAL’s victorious proposal for the large Qatar Flour Mills site was described by the jury as ‘a serene artwork, where the structure is the architecture’.

Architect Harry Gugger, special adviser to Qatar Museums and competition juror, said: ‘The competition reached out to some of the most extraordinary talents working in architecture today and ELEMENTAL, known for their social buildings, won in brilliant fashion, being both inventive and indefatigable. ELEMENTAL’s wonderful design proves once again that competitions get the best out of architectural practices.’

The new Art Mill gallery will sit in the heart of Doha’s cultural quarter and neighbour the existing Museum of Islamic Art designed by IM Pei and Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar, which is currently under construction.

The winning scheme was inspired by the ’rhythmic monumental grain silos’ on the site, adding 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’.

The Chilean practice, which is collaborating with climate engineers Transsolar, structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann and design consultants Stantec, will now work with Qatar Museums to develop the initial concept design. A timetable is not yet known.


Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, and jury chair

Art Mill will be an international exemplar where art connects across cultures and boundaries. ELEMENTAL’s assured handling of space and scale in its treatment of the silos creates a memorable and original scheme that evokes a strong sense of calm.

The team showed a love of simplicity in the use of humble materials

The team showed a love of simplicity in the use of humble materials, which will acquire a patina with age. We are hugely appreciative of the interest shown by the international architectural community in the project and would like to thank the long-list and the finalist teams for their work during the competition.


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


Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani; Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani; Hassan Rashid Al-Derham, president of Qatar University; Harry Gugger of Harry Gugger Studio; Akel I Kahera, dean of Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar; John Leighton, director-general of National Galleries of Scotland; Jasper Morrison, designer; Hiroshi Sugimoto, photographic artist, sculptor, architect, producer and author; Chris Wise, director of engineer Expedition



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