Project team:

Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris/F in partnership with Hala Wardé
Client: TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company), AFM Agence France-Muséums
Engineers: Concept design: ARUP
Realisation: Buro Happold, Transsolar
Consultants: cost control MDA
Lighting: AIK – Yann Kersalé
Scénography: Ducks – Michel Cova
Landscape design: Michel Desvigne, Jean-Claude Hardy
Executive architects/ Concept phase:
Youssef Tohmé, Raphael Renard, Qiang Zou, Reda Slaoui
Execution phase: Stefan Zopp, Jean-François Bourdet, Kris Geldof, Frederic Imbert,
Sébastien Yéou, Roula Akiki, Reda Slaoui.
Model making: Jean-Louis Courto

05. May 2012

A modern-day Pantheon
The Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi/UAE

Text: Joachim Ritter, Jean Nouvel
Visualisation: Artefactory (Eric Anton), Clément Oudin, Raphael Renard (AJN)

If there is one dome in the world you have to have seen as a lighting aesthete, up to now this has most likely been the Pantheon in Rome. The huge hall is 43 metres high and 43 metres in diameter. The most striking element in the entire building is the nine-metre oculus. Domes are a significant feature in Arabian architecture. And the new Louvre Museum designed by Jean Nouvel in Abu Dhabi underscores this. Nouvel’s dome does not have just the one oculus, however, but comprises a modern interpretation that is fascinating, inspiring and boundlessly creative.

Climatic conditions determine and influence architectural spaces. In our perception, lighting conditions are an elementary part of the climate. In the architecture we build, and the atmospheres we create in our indoor spaces, we tend to define the conditions within the architecture as the opposite to the outdoor conditions. In hot climates we prefer building interiors to be cool: in cold climates we like warm interiors. Man reacts sensitively to sudden changes in temperature, as do works of art. The new Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi is an expression of such observations. The architecture features spacious volumes, covered by what appears to be a huge transparent dome-shaped roof. The ensemble is a world unto itself, full of unusual lighting effects and plays of shadow, a welcoming world that brings together light, shadow and shimmering effects to create a calm place and a serene atmosphere. This is surprising in this day and age when new architectural projects are practically inundated with coloured lighting effects, especially colour-changing schemes and other dynamic ideas ex-pressed in light. The Louvre project contains nothing of the overpowering technology that rules many other parts of our lives today. The new museum comes alive through the interplay of architecture and daylight, and this is what makes the project so absolutely special and fascinating. The result is a series of spacious rooms filled with shimmering effects reminiscent of sunlight reflections on water. Rooms that do not shut out the outside world, but let the natural surroundings filter through the outer skin of the building and accept them as a given part of the interior. One objective of the building is that it should belong to the country it stands in and to its culture and history – not as a dull translation of an under-standing of this reality but as a modern architectural interpretation of such. It is a sign of the times in the architectural world that this has a strong impact on the lighting conditions. […]


The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 83.

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