BETWEEN Stars and marble
Designed by Jean Nouvel, the new Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi rises along the seashore on Saadiyat Island, designed to be the cultural heartland of the city and ultimately home to four distinguished museums. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first such museum in the region, built with the direct support and involvement of Agence France Muséums.
The giant silver dome is the architectural fulcrum of the design, with a diameter extending an impressive 180 m to cover 24,000 sq. m.
Designing the museum and especially the dome was only possible through the development of special technical solutions, which in turn required the use of innovative, high-performance products, including some from Mapei.
The dome might create the visual effect of lightness, but it weighs a hefty 7,500 tons and has eight different layers that form, through the use of 10,800 aluminum plaques, a geometric pattern of 7,850
variously-sized “stars” created by holes that allow in sunlight. The effect has clear oriental inspiration, with its well of light and ever-changing effects.
The floor below the dome is made of marble, with large slabs in different colors, types and sizes. Designing and laying this floor was another of the major challenges created by the museum design, particularly as it has both dry and wet sections. Mapei worked with marble specialists to find solutions for the differing degrees of dampness, eventually selecting a range of specific adhesives, grouting products and sealants, such as Keraflex Maxi, Kerapoxy Adhesive, Kerapoxy, Ultracolor Plus, Mapesil LM and Mapesil AC.
The need for special solutions also extended, in some cases, to secondary areas. For example, to protect the concrete supports in the service tunnel it was necessary to use Mapecoat W SP,
a two-component epoxy coating that is particularly resistant to the abrasion damage potentially caused by the high-powered water jets used for cleaning the surfaces.