The Louvre in Abu Dhabi – dubbed the Museum in the Sea – opened to the public for the first time over the weekend giving visitors the chance to view the development’s deep basement located 10m below sea level.
Consultant Buro Happold worked with architect Jean Nouvel to deliver the site which includes 55 individual buildings, including 23 galleries, vestibules, passageways, a restaurant, café and auditorium, all partly covered by a 180m span 7,500t lattice dome.
According to Buro Happold, the construction of the building on a site in the sea required careful planning and innovative engineering to ensure that the structure was completely water-tight at all stages of the building and operation of the 100 year design life. To achieve this, the basement, 10m below sea level, was installed within a concrete box structure surrounded by a double layer of re-injectable waterproof membrane.
In total, 4,500 tension piles were used to hold down the two-storey basement and galleries. Special H piles were developed for the scheme to withstand the uplift pressures and protection from the marine environment is provided by an Impressed Current Cathodic Protection system.
Storm and wave protection has been incorporated into the structure to resemble a hidden archaeology emerging from the sea, combined with tidal pools, energy absorbing steps, and specifically designed wearing wall systems installed to protect the museum during harsh weather. The 12 blockwork breakwaters hidden within this structure are the result of extensive analysis of waves and currents undertaken by Buro Happold.