The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, aims at creating a welcoming world which associates lights and shadows as well as shimmers and calm places in a serene atmosphere. Its objective is to belong to its country, to its history, to its geography, avoiding being either a dull translation of this reality or a pleonasm meaning boredom and convention. It also aims at emphasizing the fascination generated by rare encounters. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Every climate likes exceptions. Warmer when the weather is cold, cooler in the tropics. Men have a bad resistance to thermal shocks, as do works of art. The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum was influenced by such basic observations. It is rather unusual to find a built archipelago in the sea; it is even more uncommon to see that it is protected by a parasol flooded with a rain of lights.
It is not evident to access a museum by boat, or to find pontoons to reach it on foot from the coast, before being welcomed like a much-awaited visitor willing to see unique collections, to consult books in the tempting bookstores, or to stay longer and enjoy the teas, coffees, and local gastronomy. It is both a calm and complex place which clearly stands out in a series of museums that make a point of maintaining their differences and their authenticities.
The project is based on one of the major symbols of Arabic architecture: the Cupola. But here, it is a modern proposal made evident by its obvious gap with tradition. The dome is doubled and flat with a 180-meter diameter, offering a perfect luminous geometry drilled in a more random weaved material which creates a shadow punctuated with sun bursts. It shines in the sun of Abu Dhabi. At night, the protected landscape turns into a haven of light under a star-spangled cupola.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi becomes the final destination of an urban promenade, a garden on the coast, and a fresh refuge. A shelter of light in the daytime, it aesthetically takes on at night its function of sanctuary for the most valuable works of art.
Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Text: Jean Nouvel