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.
Photo credits: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, TDIC.