Sprawled across Doha’s Corniche, the newly-launched National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) has opened doors for the public to celebrate the nation’s past, present and future. Based on Jean Nouvel’s ambitious design, the project resembles a desert rose – rosette formation of crystals found in hot arid climates. True to its design inspiration, the museum’s exterior takes its form from several disc-like structures interlocked together.
Since its opening in March 2019, NMoQ has made headlines in national and international media. The project has been endorsed by Time Magazine among 2019’s 100 places to visit, and yet we know so little about its sustainability credentials. The project has also received a four-star rating as per Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) – MENA’s first performance-based green certification system developed by Qatar-based Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD).
Here are some key sustainability credentials achieved by the National Museum of Qatar:
Urban heat island effect: Urban heat island effect is a term used to describe temperature differential of urban and rural areas. In contrast to the natural landscapes, cities are warmer due to modification of land surfaces and secondary heat produced from the built environment. One way to mitigate the heat island effect is by introducing green roofs or light-coloured facades that mimic the natural surfaces of the geographical context. This explains why NMoQ interlocking discs have been given a light colour, which reflects more sunlight and absorbs less heat. By default, this also means less energy consumption for indoor cooling.
Native flora: Plants used for landscaping across the museum have been carefully chosen to match the region’s dry climate. Selection of native flora not only requires minimal hydration but is also representative of the museum’s geographical context.
Construction management: 98% of the waste, comprising approximately 58,350 tonnes, generated during the construction was diverted from landfills through recycling and reusing. Before the construction started, a site waste management plan was in place to segregate waste before sending them to the material recovery facility. Another such programme implemented during the project development stage was sedimentation and erosion control plan, which helped reduce pollution, soil erosion, waterway sedimentation, and airborne dust.
Low-carbon mobility: Providing multiple options for urban connectivity, the museum features bicycle tracks and pedestrian walkways with easy access to public transport. Furthermore, priority spaces are allocated to eco-friendly vehicles such as electric and hybrid cars.
Water retention: Apart from landscaping areas which provide easy drainage of stormwater, the museum’s lagoon collects rainwater from impenetrable surfaces and roof structures. With a total capacity of 17,500 m3, the lagoon protects the site from flooding. Low flush sanitary fittings in kitchens and toilets of the museum have led to a total water saving of 32%.
Drip irrigation system: As opposed to conventional methods of watering, plants grown throughout the museum are supplied with a drip irrigation system. By providing water directly to the roots, this sustainable watering method reduces the amount of water evaporated through the soil surface while also ruling out the possibility of water waste.
Material procurement: 20% of the project’s building materials were extracted, processed and manufactured regionally, precisely within 800 km of the museum’s site. These materials included grout, palm trees, sand, waterproofing membrane and concrete mix. In the same vein, 50% of the project’s building materials were derived from recycled sources. The steel that forms the structure of crystal-like discs comes from 25% recycled content and can be recycled at the end of the building’s lifecycle.
Indoor environment: Adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpet systems, composite wood and agrifibre used across the museum are chosen keeping in mind their VOC content. To keep the air free from contaminants in the operational phase, the facility is also equipped with an efficient filtration system.
Energy efficiency: NMoQ has benefitted from a smart low-carbon energy hierarchy to ensure energy efficiency in every step of its development. Starting from its passive design, the building’s façade is sufficiently insulated with high-performance glazing while the interiors are supplemented by thermal mass to minimise energy use for cooling purposes. The upper interlocking discs provide passive shade to protect a significant part of the façade from direct sunlight, which substantially reduces indoor cooling needs.
To reduce energy consumption that goes into cooling, CO2 sensors are used to adjust fresh air volumes according to the occupancy levels. Sophisticated heat recovery units reuse outgoing cool air while also pre-cooling the incoming warm air. Similarly, through displacement ventilation method, fresh air is introduced at low levels occupied by visitors and exhibits while the upper levels are only passively cooled, hence reducing energy consumption.
High sustainability rating: According to the official statement released by NMoQ, it is the only museum in the world to have bagged high sustainability ratings from multiple sustainability assessment systems. The project has also achieved LEED Gold Certificate.
With green projects such as NMoQ and FIFA 2022 World Cup stadiums, Qatar is fast emerging as a hub of the sustainable built environment. Reinforcing its unyielding stance on sustainability, the country is set to host Qatar Sustainability Summit on 27-28 October at the St. Regis Doha, Qatar. Access the full article on GORD’s website: https://www.gord.qa/blog-details/16/ten-sustainability-facts-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-national-museum-of-qatar