Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the much-anticipated project has been conceived as a ‘museum city’, comprising 55 individual buildings, including 23 galleries. Referencing traditional Emirati architecture, the design appears as a series of simple white structures that mimic the low-lying settlements common to the region.
Coinciding with the announcement, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has released new images of the Jean Nouvel-designed museum building. The centerpiece of the ambitious scheme is a huge dome — 180 meters in diameter — that appears to float above the entire museum. This complex geometric structure comprises 7850 ‘stars’, repeated at various sizes and angles in eight different layers. As the hot sun passes above, light filters through the perforations to create an effect referred to as the ‘rain of light’.
The dome is supported by four permanent, yet invisible, piers, each 110 meters apart. The interior elevation is 29 meters from the ground floor to the underside of the cladding, while the highest point of the dome is 40 metres above sea level and 36 metres above ground floor level.
At night, the canopy forms thousands of stars, which remain visible from both inside and out. Visitors, who can arrive either by land or sea, are able to explore the museum through navigating its narrow streets and detached buildings.
The dome also serves a number of environmental purposes. Importantly, it serves as a shading canopy that protects the outdoor plaza and the buildings below from the heat of the sun. In turn, this ensures a comfortable experience for visitors, allowing them to wander between the galleries, exhibitions, children’s museum, auditorium, and restaurant. The shade also reduces the energy consumption of each of the covered buildings.
The museum complex is located on Saadiyat Island, a district that also hopes to host a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum and the Zayed National Museum, designed by Foster + Partners. Artists Giuseppe Penone and Jenny Holzer will create site-specific artworks for the museum ahead of its opening.