Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the first universal museum in the Arab world. Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience transcending geography, nationality and history. The museum is due to open in 2015.
The striking and innovative Louvre Abu Dhabi building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel: ‘I wanted this building to mirror a protected territory that belongs to the Arab world and this geography.’ Combining modern architecture and inspiration drawn from the region’s traditions, the design reflects the desire to create a universal museum in which all cultures are brought together.Situated on the Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is poised between sand and sea. Providing a haven of coolness, the building forms a place of shade during the day and ‘an oasis of light under a spangled dome’ at night.
Two thirds of the museum is covered by a white dome 180 metres in diameter, which is an emblematic feature of Arabian architecture, evoking the mosque, the mausoleum and the madrasa. The dome’s seemingly random but carefully designed arrangement of geometric openings was inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material. The apertures will make it possible to control the light and temperature inside. The interior will be illuminated by an enchanting, shifting ‘rain of light’, reminiscent of the mashrabiya and the beams of light that illuminate souks.
Underneath the dome, the outer volumes of the museum, with their simple geometric forms haphazardly arranged, recall the Arab city and its medina. A promenade passes through clusters of low-rise buildings with diverse facades, creating a shifting, varied, poetic experience for visitors. In contrast, inside the buildings, the sequence of large galleries, with their strict geometry and high ceilings, offer exceptional spaces for the displays of works.
The museum and the sea
All climates like exceptions. Warmer when it is cold. Cooler in the tropics. People do not resist thermal shock well. Nor do works of art. Such elementary observations have influenced the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It wishes to create a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm. It wishes to belong to a country, to its history, to its geography without becoming a flat translation, the pleonasm that results in boredom and convention. It would like to intensify the fascination of exceptional encounters.
Discovering an archipelago constructed on the sea is unusual. As is the fact that it is protected by a parasol creating a shower of lights. The possibility of going ashore or of finding a pontoon to access the shore on foot is equally extraordinary, as is being welcomed there as a visitor wanting to browse unique collections, linger in tempting bookstores, or taste local teas, coffees, and delicacies.
It is a calm and complex place. A contrast of a series of museums cultivating their differences and their authenticities.
It is a project founded on a major symbol of Arab architecture: the dome. But here, with its evident shift from tradition, the dome is a modern proposal.
A double dome 590 feet (180 meters) in diameter, flat, perfect radiating geometry, randomly perforated woven material, creating a shadow punctuated by bursts of sun. The dome gleams in the Abu Dhabi sunshine. At night, this protected landscape is an oasis of light under a starry dome.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi thus becomes the end of an urban promenade, a garden on the coast, a cool haven, shelter from the light of day and evening, its aesthetic consistent with its role as a sanctuary for the most precious works of art.
Il progetto di Jean Nouvel per il Classical Museum trae ispirazione dal paesaggio naturale attorno.
“L’isola – commenta il progettista francese – offre un panorama rigido, attenuato dall’incontro con il canale, immagine esplicativa dell’aridità della terra contro la fluidità dell’acqua. Questo ha stimolato l’immaginazione di città che bruciano nella terra o che affogano nell’acqua. Pensieri onirici che si sono trasformati in un insieme di edifici disposti lungo un’unica fila lungo un piacevole lungomare”.
Il progetto presenta una enorme tenda che ricopre edifici più piccoli generando una sorta di pergolato attraverso il quale la luce riesce a penetrare, ma che riesce a conservare all’interno un clima fresco.
“L’edificio è coperto da una grane cupola – commenta Nouvel – una forma comune a tutte le civiltà. Si tratta di una copertura traslucida che consente la penetrazione di una magica luce diffusa….l’acqua riveste un ruolo fondamentale, sia nel riflettere ogni porzione dell’edificio diventandone quasi l’anima, sia nel creare, con un piccolo aiuto da parte del vento, un confortevole micro-clima”.
Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the first universal museum in the Arab world. Born of an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will display art, manuscripts and objects of historical, cultural and sociological significance. Spanning millennia, the items on display will originate from societies and cultures all over the world, but universal themes and common influences will be highlighted to illustrate similarities arising from shared human experience...