It has been more than three years since France’s Pritzker prize winning architect Jean Nouvel won the bid to design a sparkling new art museum for Abu Dhabi, and now construction on the new Louvre has finally broken ground.
Like Foster & Partners and a small but growing handful of other designers, Jean Nouvel looked to ancient Islamic architecture for design techniques that will not only ensure a striking, unique building, but also one that is comfortable – for both the art that will be displayed within and for the people who will flock to see it.
In a nation as hot n’ humid as Abu Dhabi, such a feat is not easy to achieve without costly mechanical intervention. For sure the air-conditioning will be pumping, but Nouvel has borrowed a few culturally-relevant passive design tricks that will at least reduce how much energy will be required to maintain an optimum interior environment.
First and most noticeable is a massive 180 meter diameter dome will cover the entire building. Evocative of the mosque, madrasa and mausoleum, the dome will help to shade the entire building from the sun and provide an overhanging shelter for visitors as well.
Geometric cutouts in the building’s facade produce an innovative portal of diffused daylight without the thermal gain that typically comes with large glass windows. These cutouts are deliberately shaped like palm fronds, which are ubiquitous in Abu Dhabi and used in vernacular architecture to build thatched roofs.
While the first of three art museums slated to be built on Saadiyat Island is certain to require a pile of energy and resources to construct, kudos to Nouvel for making an effort not only to design a structure that celebrates the genius of ancient Islamic builders but also to mitigate its environmental impact just a little bit.
This is Nouvel writes of the design:
“A microclimate is created by drawing on sensations that have been explored countless times in great Arab architecture, which is based on the mastery of light and geometry . . . a structure made up of shadows, of movement and discovery.”
The Louvre Abu Dhabi should be completed by 2015.
:: A/N Blog