From a poetic vision towards a programmed reality

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image © by Jens Kaestler

All information courtesy of 1:One| Computational Geometry and Georg Ackermann GmbH;  please note individual credits for the images.

Construction of a 6 meter large Light-Test Model of Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi

3 specialist companies collaborate for design and construction of a light-test model for the complex Louvre dome structure

German company One-to-One have sent us this report about their joint interdisciplinary effort to accomplish Jean Nouvel’s poetic vision of the “rain of light”. The following text is from One-to-One:

Jean Nouvel has a subtle and ingenious vision for the planned branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi: a gigantic dome, 180 meters in diameter, perforated by layers of superimposed cladding patterns, will filter the blazing desert sun onto the white museum gallery buildings below. The architect calls this virtuoso effect his „rain of light”. Realizing a poetic vision such as this one necessitates a targeted approach, requiring to test the lighting conditions on a large-scale, architectural model beforehand.

Building a replica of this seemingly clear, primary geometric shape of a spherical segment at scale 1:33 has an intrinsic complexity which is not apparent from the outset: 9988 aluminium bars, 4316 laser-cut stainless steel knots and 976 layers of aluminium sheet cladding had to be planned, produced and assembled at the highest quality, all within a timeframe of less than 6 month. Achieving such a feat necessitates a rational approach, and the development of efficient geometric optimization algorithms are indispensable, which is why the German company One-to-One GmbH, Frankfurt/Main, which specialized in the development and deployment of custom-made software-tools in design-related fields, had thus been entrusted with handling the complex data.


© byAteliers Jean Nouvel

Working closely with Ateliers Jean Nouvel and their guidelines, the company One-to-One coordinated the construction of the model. The model was built within an interdisciplinary collaboration: In symbiosis with the company Georg Ackermann GmbH, Wiesenbronn, whose competence in fabrication consists of an outstanding mixture of technical innovation and traditional craftsmanship, as well as with the experienced model-makers of honkahe interior+furniture, Nuremberg, the model was planned, assembled and brought to completion. The three companies have collaborated on similar projects before, building, for example, large-scale acoustical models for Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonic and Ateliers Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie de Paris.
The model was manufactured and constructed in Germany and transported by air to the United Arab Emirates. In the presence of the press in November of 2009, Jean Nouvel was first able to successfully test the subtle interplay of light in Abu Dhabi, at the very same location on Saadiyat Island, the “island of happiness” which will also be home to buildings planned by Frank O. Gehry and Tadao Ando, at which the completed Louvre Abu Dhabi will be opened, in a few years from now.

lad_1one_louvre_04Computeranimation of the programmed and geometrically optimized parts of the Louvre model
left side – the light-filtering cladding, right side – structure of the model at scale 1:33
© by One-to-One GmbH


© by One-to-One GmbH


© by Benjamin Koren


Computeranimation of Nouvel’s Design: Louvre Abu Dhabi
© by Ateliers Jean Nouvel


© by Benjamin Koren


The structure of the Louvre model at scale 1:33
© by Benjamin Koren


The finalized, fully clad model
© by Manfred Weid


The architect Jean Nouvel examines
the Louvre model
© by Jens Kestler