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Projects /International/ Lighting events/ Louvre, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Louvre, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Daylight project of the year

Throughout historic Middle Eastern communities, covered open-air marketplaces created vital social centres.
Depending on time of day and year, daylight pierces the interiors, putting dappling light on the people and surfaces within. When it becomes humid or particularly dusty outside, an ethereal experience emerges: the rays of light become visible.

This project was conceived similarly – with daylight as the instigator. The ‘rain of light’ creates an inspired external experience for patrons as they traverse from daylit gallery to daylit gallery. The architecture and art collection here are uniquely tied to their location – at the crossroads of eastern and western civilisations.

Inspired by Arabic architecture, eight layers of abstracted geometric patterning clad the dome, allowing limited sunlight to pass through.
As the sun moves across the sky, the people and spaces below the dome become animated.
Through a full-scale mockup early in design, the team tuned the average dome porosity to create a high contrast between the sunlight and the ambient surround, maximising visibility to the light rays.

BuroHappold further modulated the dome porosity to maximise daylight over the galleries while minimising it over the covered external walkways to improve external thermal comfort for patrons below.

From here, the practice refined the skylight and vertical aperture fenestration to accommodate conservation requirements.
The team created a matrix summing hourly annual contributions of every aperture to every art surface – in several instances, up to seven apertures contribute daylight to a surface.

As placement for the art pieces was finalised in each gallery, the team tuned the shade settings and electric lighting levels in close collaboration with the curatorial staff and the electric lighting designer.

This resulted in well-controlled daylit volumes with large skylight apertures visually connecting visitors to the dome from within.
Vertical apertures boldly illuminate the interstitial spaces, attracting visitors from one space to the next, intuitively generating a navigation route.
Museum environments are intense, commonly causing visual fatigue from scrutinising exhibition details. The interstitial spaces create views to the sea – interspersed moments of pause on the gallery journey. They allow visitors to mentally rejuvenate, sustain engagement, and absorb more in their daily visit.