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Qatar National Museum

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The Qatar National Museum in Doha is composed of a multitude of randomly arranged disks to create a gigantic desert rose, as designed by the Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris. The museum’s exhibition space was created by juxtaposing 130 disks ranging in diameter from 10 m (33 ft.) to 40 m (131 ft.). The disks that form the shape of the structure had a total surface area of 120,000 m² (1.3 million sq. ft.) that had to be covered by a mineral surface.

Prefabricated ultra-high performance fiber reinforced concrete (UHPFRC) components were chosen after testing several methods such as cast-in-place, lime, shotcrete and precast concrete. The UHPFRC’s high strength, ductility and low porosity meant panel thickness could be reduced to 40 mm (1-5/8 in.) without requiring the use of passive reinforcement, even though the panels are large and the stresses they experience due to wind and temperature variations are extreme. In addition, the prefabrication of the panels and their low weight made it possible to build the facade in two years, as planned.

The facade is composed of prefabricated UHPFRC panels measuring up to 3 m (10 ft.) in length, fixed on a secondary metal frame that is supported by needle beams on the main metal frame. Cellular glass panels provide insulation. Polymer bitumen strips were glued solidly on the cellular glass panels and around the needle beams to waterproof the structure, and rubber seals were used between the panels for sandproofing.

The UHPFRC also contributed to drastically reducing the amount of concrete and sand used—a significant aspect for sustainable development requirements. The amount of sand estimated to have been saved by using this technical solution is equivalent to a beach in the Maldives.

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