Louvre Abu Dhabi’s geometric dome has informed its interiors, says Nouvel

Jean Nouvel, the architect behind the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, explains that the interiors of the museum is largely inspired by its geometric dome, as well as the artworks on display.

The interior exhibition spaces, comprising museum galleries, temporary exhibition spaces and Children’s Museum, make up 8,600 square metres.

Also designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, the floors, walls and ceiling surfaces of the museum galleries re-enforce the palatial dimensions of Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The floor paving is made of stone modules framed in bronze. Throughout the galleries, the choice of stone responds to the period of the artworks on show. The walls provide hanging flexibility: all subsidiary equipment may be concealed within special wall slots.

Filtered natural light can be present in all the galleries, either from lateral windows with views onto the surrounding environment or through zenithal lighting. This involves the use of glass mirrors to capture sunlight and direct it into the gallery spaces while also scattering rays to avoid glare.

The display cases were specifically designed by Meyvaert in Ghent Belgium for Louvre Abu Dhabi. They incorporate state-of-the art materials and have been designed to adapt flexibly to the rotation artworks on display.

In addition to the museum, Nouvel was also involved in the museum’s programme.

The idea of “being on journey” is present throughout the interior spaces of the galleries, where names of countries and cities adorn the floor in native languages, indicative of visitors arriving on the shore of Abu Dhabi to begin a path of discovery into various civilisations.

The idea is that visitors arrive to the beginning of the gallery space like sailors arriving on the shore of Abu Dhabi to start this discovery, explained Jean-Francios Charnier, scientific director of Agence France-Museums.

“The geometrical lines on the walls and the floor of the galleries reference maritime charts that helped sailors navigate their journey in the sea. Visually, the lines also connect with the structure of the dome as well as being a reflection of geometry, which references mathematics in Islamic art and connects with the symbolism of location,”  he said.

The restaurant, also designed by Nouvel, is made up of modular compartments. The intricate interior design takes inspiration from Arabic patterns, which have been engraved into Corian panels. The furniture complements the light-filled interiors and panoramic views of the sea. Seven bespoke chandeliers hang over the seven VIP tables.

Jean Nouvel’s design for the museum café is inspired by the Op Art (optical art) movement of the 1960s. From certain positions, the café seems entirely monochrome (white); from others, the interiors are full of colour, like an abstracted reflection of the local maritime environment and port, opposite the museum. The floors, walls, ceilings and furniture have been designed specifically for the site by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

Nouvel explained that the museum also takes on the feeling of a giant palace:“Everything is organised in such a way that you feel like you are in a huge apartment, a huge palace. The palace of the Louvre,” he said.

He also commented on the role of architecture in inventing and exploring history and context, where buildings are no longer designed to be nowhere.

“Architecture is a way to enlarge the world, to make the world more complex. If you do the same thing everywhere, everywhere in the world will be the same.

“You have to preserve the pleasure of travelling, the pleasure of history, the threads of stories, the attitudes, traditions towards nature, and history which has marked cities with the monuments that are already present.

“All places have the right to artistic exploration that allows them to build and evolve. It should be forbidden to build a place if there are no proposals at the level of invention and exploration,” he said.

Jean Nouvel also spoke about how the context of the building is rooted in its design. “This museum had to have roots,” he said. Read the full article about Louvre Abu Dhabi’s contextual architecture here. 

You can also see more images of the museum here. 

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