On terra firma
Unlike other projects that have been built out of nothing or on artificial islands, Saadiyat is a natural space. Covering 27 square kilometres, it is expected to accommodate homes for approximately 145,000 people.
One of these symbols will be the Louvre Museum. The legendary Paris gallery has chosen Saadiyat Island to set up its third location (the second is in Lens). This project, designed by Jean Novel, is scheduled to open in late 2016. The most unique feature of the building is its dome, which simulates interlinked branches that allow light to filter through, creating a curious pattern of shadows. Underneath, the history of civilisation will be told, split into four different periods: archaeology; the medieval era and the birth of Islam; classical period from Humanism to Enlightenment; and modern and contemporary art.
The Guggenheim Foundation knows a lot about expanding: New York, Venice, Bilbao and now Abu Dhabi. Designed by its head architect, Frank Gehry, the building will house an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art (with emphasis on the Middle East). The cones on the building are inspired by the old ventilation towers used locally. They create shade and manage ventilation naturally, without forgetting aesthetics or Gehry’s signature style. It will open in 2017, although several exhibitions have already been held. The first, Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection, was used to present the first sixteen works acquired for the new venue.