National Museum of Qatar

For the National Museum of Qatar, L’Observatoire International followed the artistic direction of architect Jean Nouvel, to develop a lighting design that encompasses key elements of the museum’s façade, landscape, exterior artworks and sculptures. Set around the historic Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani Palace, the museum; a space dedicated to the celebration of Qatari cultural heritage past and present, is transformed with light into an expansive organic gesture that emerges as a symbol for global connection.


From the city to the bay, this architectural feat appears like a jewel, caught between desert and sea. Such as a Desert Rose, the museum unfolds, a living and mysterious element, creating a sensation of freedom surrounding the city. Questioning without giving an answer, light is emitted from its heart, originating from an unidentifiable place, an eternal energy highlighting the metaphysical nature of the building. Visitors are invited to approach the entrances at the scale of the building itself. At each entry into this modern structure, light grazes floor, ceiling and walls, visually raising the architectural structure.


At night, light emits from its core, an internal energy projecting from the structures alcoves and expanding inward to the Caravanserai; a gathering place flexible for markets, exhibitions, performances and private receptions. With adaptable lighting that fluctuates during special events, light radiates from this center creating a spiritual link between earth and sky, outer facade and inner face - extending beyond its physical site, no longer limited by its urban landscape. These internal energies, both impulsive and communicative reflect shadows of warm light that spread throughout the passageways connecting to the landscape.


By varying in their intensity, the lights of the Museum’s park accentuate dunes, palms, bushes and tropical trees, creating an abundant and flickering landscape. This landscape becomes a dynamic map of stars, pushing the boundaries of the infinite and playing with the spectator’s vision; now shifting between earth and sky. The contrast between the softly illuminated surroundings and meandering pathways lead the visitor to wander through the park, discovering works of art that appear like glowing pearls against the landscape and sky. At the lagoon, art and water unify in a brilliant play of light juxtaposed with the smooth contemplation of the water at its basin.


L’Observatoire International approached the lighting design as a metaphor for the historical and cultural. Emboldening the everyday with a link to past and future possibility, the lighting design is unique and sculptural, supporting an ever-changing cultural landscape.

Location Doha, Qatar
Date Completed 2019
Architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Client Qatar Museums
Type Museums + Cultural Institutions
size430,000 ft2 / 40,000 m2
Status Built

L'Observatoire Intl Team
Principal Hervé Descottes
Project Leader Christopher Marta
Project Team Margherita Bilato Solenn Borchers Nicolas Dufils Gianni Franceschi Anna Muslimova Mathilde Rouiller Francesco Secone Leah Xandora
Awards architizer A+ Award Jury Winner Plus Categories | Architecture + Light , 2020
Dezeen Award Architectural Lighting Design Longlists , 2020
Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Award , 2019
Press Architectural Record, May 2019
Interior Design, Jan 2020
Photo Credits Iwan Baan