Waterside flour mill will be converted into cultural centre after three-stage contest

An international design competition has been launched for an architect to convert old flour mills in Doha into an art gallery.

The Art Mill project will turn warehouses, grain processing facilities and huge vertical silos into unique spaces for displaying art.

The old mills occupy a prominent site in Qatar’s capital surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. It is close to IM Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art and Jean Nouvel’s national museum.

The three-stage competition is open to architects with at least seven years’ post-qualification experience.

It has been designed to reduce the burden of risk for entrants, said Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants which is running it for Qatar Museums.

Design work will only be required from the long-listing stage onwards.

Stage one requires entrants to submit two short written statements supported by images – the first a practice profile and the second outlining relevant experience.

Twenty semi-finalists will be required to come up with strategies for the site and its links to the city.

From these, a shortlist of five architects will be given a further briefing and asked for more detailed concept designs for the conversion and extension of the mills.

The long-list will receive a contribution to expenses of £5,000, with the shortlisted practices receiving an honorarium of £30,000.

Reading described it as a life-changing opportunity for a practice that could communicate its passion, attention to detail and ability to design transformationally.

“Our approach here balances competitor and client needs but nevertheless will test and probe practices,” he said.

“The industrial process of milling grain has left a fascinating legacy in the layout and spaces of the existing buildings on the site, notably high ceiling spaces and a rhythmic, patterned promenade of vertical silos. Re-using and adapting these structures will be integral to the project.”

Mansoor bin Ebrahim al Mahmoud, acting chief executive of Qatar Museums, said he was looking for an outstanding architect who would take immense care.

The project is an ideal opportunity for young designers as well as celebrated architects , he said.

“We’re very enthusiastic about this competition and open-minded about who might apply and be appointed,” he added.

“This new museum will represent a major milestone in the urban development of Doha, connecting a number of our most cherished cultural and heritage sites. Dynamic, sustainable, contemporary and true to its social and cultural responsibilities, it will reflect the importance and setting of an historic site at the heart of the port and city.”

The deadline for stage one is June 26. To apply visit the competition website.

The longlist will be announced this summer, with the shortlist following in the autumn. The winning practice will be named in spring 2016.  Construction is expected to begin in 2017.