Art Mill Competition for Aravena

Syllogism of silos


The excessive art complex that the Qatari authorities are raising in downtown Doha, with buildings like the Museum of Islamic Art by Ieoh Ming Pei and the National Museum of Qatar by Jean Nouvel already standing, will soon have a no less ambitious addition: the Art Mill cultural center, the competition for which has just been won by the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena.

Selected out of 489 entries and carrying the day over seven other finalists, Aravena’s design distributes the program (which includes exhibition gallerries, classrooms, and venues for events) in two interconnected pieces: on the one hand, a severe large plinth that rises to form what is a rather dull plaza; and on the other, a cluster of towers arranged with the rigor of a syllogism and resulting from the combination of two families – that of the prexisting silos for storing wheat, and the new one of the cooling towers.

The powerful and rather unfriendly building that arises from this combination is certainly a display of monumentality (Alejandro Aravena has indeed that rare ability to reconcile the monumental with social discourse), and it can ultimately be seen as a postmodern version of the old obsession with silos that architects such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier turned into a very distinctive sign of modernity.

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