Arquitectura Viva
Monday, August 10, 2020

Under construction: Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, by Jean Nouvel

As a result of an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and France in 2007, the Louvre Abu Dhabi seeks to embody a spirit of openness and dialogue between cultures; thus, in its 8,600 square meters of galleries it will display artworks with a historic, cultural, and social value from different civilizations. Designed by Jean Nouvel within the vast cultural and leisure complex of Saadiyat Island, the building is designed as a ‘museum city’ protected by a large perforated dome that filters sunlight. Aside from this project, the French office has other works in the Gulf area, like Doha Tower or Qatar National Museum, currently under construction.

Within the new cultural and leisure complex of Saadiyat Island, with projects by Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, among others, Jean Nouvel’s building emerges like a huge dome of 180 meters in diameter that seems to float above the water.

The construction process of the museum starts with the excavation works and foundations under the water, with more than 4,000 reinforced concrete piles, and the creation of an artificial ground base reclaimed from the sea, on which the works continue.

The steel superstructure of the dome is composed of 85 large pieces measuring between 5 and 7 meters long and 5 meters deep each one, held on provisional supports and joined together following a horizontal, vertical, and diagonal pattern.

Once all the super-sized dome elements are fitted together (weighing 5,200 tonnes), the canopy rests just on four concrete supports, reaching up to 30 meters high in the interior and 9 meters high at the dome edge.

The cladding system of the dome is made from 7,850 star-shaped aluminum elements of different angles and sizes, which constitute a total of eight skin layers, four internal ones and four towards the exterior clad with stainless steel.

The environmental goal of the building is to create a microclimate through the use of passive techniques inspired in Arabian traditional culture, so the starry dome works as a protection canopy that generates a rain of light effect beneath it.
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