Louvre Abu Dhabi
Architect. Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Function. Senior Project Architects: Rolando Rodriguez Leal, Natalia Wrzask
Type. Architecture, Public Building
Location. Abu Dhabi, UAE
Client. Tourist Development & Investment Company
Size. 97,000,000 sqm
The inspiration for the concept of Louvre Abu Dhabi is traditional Arabic architectural culture. Taking a contextual approach to the site, Nouvel designed Louvre Abu Dhabi as a ‘museum city’ in the sea. Its contrasting series of white buildings take inspiration from the medina and low-lying Arab settlements. The façades of the buildings are made up of 3,900 panels of ultra-high performance fibre concrete (UHPC).
A vast dome, 180 meters in diameter, covers the majority of the museum city and is visible from the sea. The dome consists of eight different layers: four outer layers clad in stainless steel and four inner layers clad in aluminium separated by a steel frame five meters high. The frame is made of 10,000 structural components pre-assembled into 85 super-sized elements, each weighing up to 50 tonnes. The dome’s complex pattern is the result of a highly studied geometric design. Each ray of light must penetrate the eight layers before appearing then disappearing. The result is a cinematic effect as the sun’s path progresses throughout the day. Named the ‘rain of light’, this effect has been the subject of many models and mock-ups over the years and is one of the defining features of the concept.
The museum design is a collaboration between traditional design and modern construction techniques. The tranquil environment encourages visitors to enjoy the ever-changing relationship between the sun and the dome and between sea, buildings and land. The complex engineering concept made Louvre Abu Dhabi one of the most innovative and challenging museum projects to be built in recent times.
Rolando and Natalia have joined the project at the construction stage as Senior Project Architects and were in charge of the external facades, exterior works, interior fit out of the galleries as well as the museography display cases coordination.
Senior Project Architects:
Rolando Rodriguez-Leal, Natalia Wrzask
All images by Ateliers Jean Nouvel