Throughout his remarkable design for Louvre Abu Dhabi, French architect Jean Nouvel was determined to celebrate Abu Dhabi’s location between land and sea, as well as its traditional Arab architecture.
International architect Jean Nouvel is one of the most significant architects of the last half-century. Inspired by the architecture and traditions of the United Arab Emirates, Nouvel has conceived a remarkable home for Louvre Abu Dhabi. This extraordinary architectural feat is also a powerful symbol of the nation’s vision and achievements.
A Floating Dome of Light and Shade
The centrepiece of Nouvel’s vision is a huge silvery dome that appears to float above the entire museum-city. Despite its apparent weightlessness, the dome in fact weighs approximately 7,500 tonnes, the same as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Inspired by the cupola, a distinctive feature in Arabic architecture, Nouvel’s dome is a complex, geometric structure of 7,850 stars, repeated at various sizes and angles in eight different layers. As the sun passes above, its light filters through the perforations in the dome to create an inspiring effect within the museum, known as the ‘rain of light’. This ode to nature and the elements takes its inspiration from the palm trees of Abu Dhabi.
A Museum-City in the Sea
Designed as a micro-city, Louvre Abu Dhabi is an archipelago out at sea. Dedicated areas entice and encourage a multitude of activities, especially contemplation. Just like wandering the narrow streets of an Arabian medina, visitors can explore 55 detached buildings. 23 of these buildings are devoted to galleries, which were inspired by the low-lying homes of the local region. Exterior facades overlooking both sea and the Abu Dhabi skyline encourage considered walks and conversation. Specially commissioned artworks by artists such as Jenny Holzer and Giuseppe Penone punctuate the exterior facades, sparking further emotional and intellectual encounters.
An Environmental Micro-Climate
Beyond being beautiful, the dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi also serves a number of environmental purposes. It acts as a shading canopy to protect the outdoor plaza and the buildings below from the heat of the sun. In addition, the shade reduces the energy consumption of each of the covered buildings. The Louvre Abu Dhabi design is targeting silver LEED status, and has achieved a 3 Pearl Estidama Design Rating. The museum creates a comfortable microclimate with culturally inspired passive-design techniques including a concept based on traditional regional architecture, passive water and energy conservation techniques and highly efficient HVAC systems, lighting, and sanitary fittings.
LOUVRE Abu Dhabi opens November 11.