ONSITE: Qatar’s National Museum starts to bloom

Construction Week Qatar recently revisited the National Museum of Qatar to see how this landmark project is progressing and caught up with Fahad Al Jahrami, general manager of ASTAD Consult

The deseret rose inspired shape is clearly taking form.
The deseret rose inspired shape is clearly taking form.

Construction Week Qatar recently revisited the National Museum of Qatar to see how this landmark project is progressing and caught up with Fahad Al Jahrami, general manager of ASTAD Consult, who assures that it is currently at 95% completion and the landscaping is at 60%.

“Pre-completion inspections of rooms have already started and the installations of furniture, fixtures and equipment have begun,” he says.

Creating this spectacular structure has not come without its challenges, as Al Jahrami highlights. “The design of the National Museum of Qatar is highly complex. The visible disks on the exterior extend into the interior, forming some of the walls as three dimensional curves.

“The construction of the steel structure was very interesting as each disk was structurally supported by another disk, making the logistics of temporary scaffolding a challenging exercise. To overcome this, ASTAD employed a highly reputable steel contractor, made use of the BIM model, and ensured all stakeholders were on site for the elaboration of the shop drawings,” he explains.

What has become an art form in its own right, is the incredibly complex façade of the structure and Al Jahrami adds: “The façade and building envelope is made up of approximately 75,000 glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels, with almost all varying in shape and size. Each panel had to be manufactured as per the design intent in the factory and was then transported very delicately to avoid any type of damage. Delicate transportation was critical because all panels had to be installed without any alterations or repairs to ensure the colour and finish maintains complete consistency,” he explains.

Within the museum is a restored palace, dating back to the 20th Century. Al Jahrami explains some of the considerations involved in its restoration: “Another challenging aspect was the restoration of the Old Palace which was originally built in the early 20th century.

“One of Doha’s most recognisable landmarks, the building serves as an icon that celebrates Qatar’s history and heritage. The building was restored to its original shape using the same materials and construction methods.”

He adds that the structural condition of the building was weak and was at high risk of collapsing with any form of intervention. “It was paramount that ASTAD employed specialised restoration consultants, who ensured the palace was restored using traditional methods every step of the way.

“The newly restored palace will be a fitting central exhibit within the National Museum of Qatar,” he adds.

BIM was used extensively in this project and Al Jahrami says that using this innovative technology “enhanced our project delivery process, enabling advanced design, visualisation, simulation and collaboration, providing greater coherence for all stakeholders across the project lifecycle”.

The software is highly sophisticated, although he cautions: “you have to be certain of the validity of the data you are inputting and that you completely comprehend the parameters you are dealing with”.

The jigsaw façade was put together with the help of BIM and an intensive logistical bar-coding system that tagged each panel, helping ASTAD monitor the production, stock and installation. Logistical management played a key role in arranging the panels. Extreme care had to be taken to maintain the bar-codes and storage of the panels. If any panel was stored out of sequence, it would require a significant amount of time to resolve, identify and re-stack, he explains.

Al Jahrami adds, “BIM reduced the need for any reworking or duplication of drawings for the building’s requirements. The BIM model has extensive data and allows each discipline to annotate and connect their intelligence to the project. BIM’s drawing tools are much faster than 2D drawing tools with each object connected to a database that holds all of the data related to each item.”

The construction team was able to generate all 2D drawings required for construction from the master BIM model. This saved on the time and cost that would have been required to generate 2D drawings for each section of the building. “BIM’s rapid computerised calculation of components alone has generated significant savings on labour,” he stresses. BIM was utilised because of the vast complexity of constructing the National Museum of Qatar, requiring a high degree of collaboration between all stakeholders Al Jahrami points out.

“It was the only tool that allowed us to properly coordinate and incorporate all trades, detecting any clashes between them. The design of the project would not have been possible without it.”

For the general manager, what stands out most for him when he considers the magnitude of the project, was the installation of the panels on the interlocking disks that form the primary structure of the building.

“That was the most challenging aspect of the project and the most striking. The design was inspired by the desert rose, commonly found beneath the sands of the Gulf region and the disks are representative of petals, each positioned at
different angles.

The National Museum of Qatar is one of the most complex projects ASTAD is overseeing and has really caught the world’s attention. Since conception, our commitment has solely been towards ensuring our client’s vision is brought to life,” he says enthusiastically.

In conclusion Al Jahrami adds: “It has been very rewarding to be a part of this project’s development, watching it form into the architectural masterpiece that it is today.”

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