Belgian photographer Julien Lanoo’s recent photo series captures both the impressive outer form and the cavernous interior of the National Museum of Qatar. The stunning images showcase the breathtaking architectural work photographed from the vantage point of a human, allowing us to imagine viewing the locale in person.
The National Museum of Qatar was designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel from the inspiration of a desert rose. It is comprises intersecting and cantilevering disks that are carefully rotated and arranged to form an abstracted rose with an inner courtyard. Nouvel has said that the building is inspired by three critical narratives that define Qatar: the land and its people, the coastal and desert influences, and the country’s radical rise to economic prosperity. All three elements are expressed in the finished building to both functionally and architecturally serve as a monument to the history of Qatar.
The unusual gift shop captured in Lanoo’s interior shots was designed by Koichi Takada Architects. The firm was influenced by similar contextual research and designed the space as an abstraction of the Dahl Al Misfir—or “Cave of Light”–located in Qatar. The massive interior volume is clad in 40,000 wood pieces cut with a CNC machine and hand-assembled. Though a unique space in and of itself, the nature-inspired and carefully crafted shop is a perfect complement to Nouvel’s original design.
In a 2017 interview, Lanoo explains why he photographs architecture through a framed narrative on a human scale. He asks, “Why do we build if not for humans? I perceive this not only on a social level, but also visually. For me, the architecture is a reflection of a community. From the wonderfully well-designed bunkers I grew up next door to, to the most modern social project or luxury shops. A never-ending quest to see and understand. To tell the story.”