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Inspired by Symbols of Arab Culture: Louvre Architect

posted on: Nov 10, 2017

SOURCE: KHALEEJ TIMES

BY: JASMINE AL KUTTAB

The Pritzker Prize-winning French architect said that when he did not have to look far for the musuem’s design inspiration

Standing under the dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi, visitors are struck with the reminder of past lives, lived under the oasis of the date trees of Al Ain. The rays of light on the wall suddenly reflect back to them a bygone era that defines the culture of the UAE.

Such is the design and structure of Louvre Abu Dhabi, Jean Nouvel, the chief architect, brought to the epoch-making museum in the Arab world. Oozing with excellence, the museum is a unison between today’s modernity and the UAE’s unique history.

The Pritzker Prize-winning French architect said that when it came to the design he did not have to look too far for inspiration, because inspiration lay right here, in the heart of the UAE.

“I believed this museum has to have roots and should translate and define the culture of this country, so I used symbols of the Arabic culture.”

Recalling his first helicopter tour of the sandy island, Nouvel said: “I’m a contextual architect, and I can’t imagine a programme if it doesn’t belong to the culture. In 2006 when I was told that I was going to create something for a deserted island, just sand and sea. But the sea was there and the sky was also there.”

He added, however, “I had an Arabian aura in mind, the symbol of Madinah, the seat of spirituality.”

Nouvel decided to create this motif of a neighbourhood, rather than a building, taking into consideration the climate. A play between light and geometry have been thought-out throughout the entire project.

He added that the first symbol of Arabian architecture is the dome, which can be seen from miles away. “The dome is a place that will protect us from the sun light, just like how the palm trees protect us from the light.”

The nobility and Arabic theme of the architecture is even present in the stones for the floors, which were derived from Oman. “You can see the horizon and the sea; everything is organised in a way that you feel you are in a palace.”

The French architect’s innovative design proposes a chronological trait – the museum opens almost like a magnificent book with 12 larger-than-life chapters.

Nouvel said he hopes his one-of-a-kind neighbourhood will be a place for people to come together, just as they come and meet the priceless artworks.

“I want this museum to be lived by these objects. I know I am very emotional because after 11 years of hard work, we have finally seen this project turn from a dream to reality.”