A milestone was reached last week, when the final piece of cladding for the outer shell of the Louvre Abu Dhabi‘s dome was put in place. So far, the complex jigsaw-puzzle roof took 30 million man hours and 424 days to complete, and it still needs work on its inner side. Author of the project, French architect and Pritzker Prize winner, Jean Nouvel, was joined at the event by Ali Al Mansoori and Sufian Al Marzooqi, chairman and chief executive of the Tourism Development and Investment Company, the project’s developer.

Jean Nouvel and a model for the Louvre Abu Dhabi project- Photography: Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images

Jean Nouvel and a model for the Louvre Abu Dhabi project- Photography: Thomas Coex / AFP / Getty Images

“Rain of Light”, as the dome is referred to, will work as a filter for sunlight. The geometric concept of the museum is strongly linked to Arabian architecture and local traditions. The dome itself, at 180 meters in diameter, is a reference to the emblematic Arabian architecture, such as the mosque, the mausoleum and the madrasa. The apparently-random patterns on the surface of the dome were inspired by interlaced palm leaves – the traditional material used for roofs.

Construction Site on November 27, 2014 - Photography: Caren Firouz / Reuters

Construction Site on November 27, 2014 – Photography: Caren Firouz / Reuters

Due to its proximity to the sea, water also plays an important role in the controlled inner micro climate of the museum and the quality of the inner space, while reflecting the natural light. Below the dome lie several buildings of the museum, placed arbitrarily, with a simple geometry, in contrast to the geometry of the canopy – these are reminders of the traditional Arab city and its medina. The four towers that support the structure of the dome are concealed inside the buildings, creating the illusion of a floating 7,000 tonne dome.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi construction site on Saadiyat Island – a districtid that includes The National Museum Sheikh Ayed, The Contemporary Art Museum (Guggenheim), a Live Arts Center and a Maritime Museum. The total area of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Musseum will be “of approximately 24000 square meters, of which 6000 square meters will be dedicated to permanent collections and 2000 square meters to temporary exhibitions”, the practice explains. The opening date is set later this year.

By: Ana Cosma

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