A sparkling museum city for Saadiyat Island
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the jewel in the crown of Saadiyat Island, the city’s new cultural district. Designed as a ‘museum city’, the new 58,000m2 art and exhibition centre boasts a myriad of gallery spaces clustered beneath a shallow domed canopy, creating an expansive yet intimate space in which visitors can meander and mingle at their leisure.
Situated on the northwest shoreline of the island, the intrinsic connection between the new Louvre and the surrounding sea is reflected in the architectural design. Realising this union presented some serious challenges for our team of engineers, who had to conceive and develop a variety of solutions that would give the appearance of a building effortlessly at one with its surroundings, while also providing adequate protection against both the environmental and security issues presented by its maritime location.
Working in tandem with the architects, the BuroHappold team evaluated a number of concepts by which to bring the element of water into the building, finally settling on the inclusion of tidal pools that reflect the light that filters through the glazed roof in dappled patterns on the interior walls, creating gentle movement that correlates and responds to the museum’s unique natural setting.
Our water team provided specialist advice on the construction of these pools, using first empirical, and then numerical and physical scale modelling to ensure the tidal flow and water quality augmented the aesthetics of the building without risk of flooding or damage from the saline water.
As VIPs and visitors alike will arrive at the Louvre by boat, mooring facilities were also a vital part of the design. These had to evoke a seamless experience of floating in to the gallery on the sea, while also incorporating vital safety and security measures.
Carefully planned, intelligent design solutions from our team included the dual use of offshore breakwaters to both attenuate the power of the waves lapping into the port, taking into account the potential impact of future climate change, and serve as a vessel security barrier. By collaborating closely with the wider design team, we were able to incorporate these large structures into the architectural concept, extending out from the building as if they were reaching into the sea to welcome new arrivals.
It is features such as these, realised through the strategic yet sympathetic design so typical of BuroHappold, that will anchor the stunning new Louvre Museum in the minds of all who visit in years to come.
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