Project of Louvre in Abu Dhabi
The Purpose of the Report
The aim of the current research is to describe the project of Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. Since the given construction is one of the greatest cultural events in the world during last years, it deserves celebration and public approval. The purpose of the research is to describe the related project and explain its purpose. In addition, the aim of this paper is to review the completed, current and future activities as well as to notice the problems occurred during the project implementation.
It is worth noting that the given research is important due to the great cultural significance of Louvre Abu Dhabi in the modern world. Moreover, this project faced many obstacles and problems during its execution. For example, exploiting labor force is one of the major issues, which caused world community disapproval (Jones, 2015). Nevertheless, it is important to review and discuss the given construction since this is the first great cultural center in the Middle East.
Identification/Description of the Project
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of cooperation between France and the United Arab Emirates. The client is Tourism Development & Investment Company, while the budget of the project amount to $ 650000000 (Emirates Tenders). The representatives of two countries signed the agreement on March 6, 2007 for the project implementation. Such cooperation is a new experience for the United Arab Emirates because the aim is to create the new cultural center in Arab world, which is not similar to the French one but incorporates unique features and innovations. Nevertheless, while elaborating the project, the designers considered the architectural masterpieces of France, such as “the Louvre museum, the Pompidou Centre, the Établissement public of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, the National Library of France (BNF), the Quai Branly museum, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, the Museum and National Domain of Versailles, the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts, the École du Louvre, the Rodin Museum, the National Domain of Chambord, and the Opérateur du patrimoine et des projets immobiliers de la culture” (Napoleon, 2012). The new Louvre will present own works and those of French cultural facilities over ten years on a rotating basis. (Louvre Abu Dhabi, 2016)
Louvre Abu Dhabi stands on Saadiyat Island, which is often called the Island of Happiness. In addition, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be located next to the Louvre. Jean Nouvel is the architect, who designed Louvre Abu Dhabi (Napoleon, 2012). The square of the museum city will be 64,000 m². However, the permanent collections will occupy 6,000 m² of the general square while 2,000 m² will include temporary exhibits. “A dome 180 meters in diameter (the same size as the Louvre’s Cour Carrée) will cover two-thirds of the museum, providing shade and reducing energy consumption. Abu Dhabi” (Napoleon, 2012). Therefore, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a new experience in the modern culture.
The Purpose of the Project
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the great project, and there are many purposes for its implementation. The first aim is to become the best cultural country in the Middle East and in the entire world. Moreover, they may reach the level of “the gold standard for art, education, and culture” (Napoleon, 2012). This is a new stage in the development of the United Arab Emirates. In addition to the fact that the country is rich and successful, it can become a cultural center.
Another aim of the given project is to create a new source of income in the country. Although the United Arab Emirates is a high-developed country, the endowment of oil is a permanent process. Therefore, the country’s leaders are seeking new projects in order to provide its further improvement. They develop the country due to the advancement of several spheres such as tourism, education, and services.
The project started in 2007, when the leaders of the United Arab Emirates decided to develop the culture of their country. They signed agreement with France to build a large cultural complex on Saadiyat Island. Abu Dhabi Louvre is one of three facilities, which are located on that island. Jean Nouvel is a French architect who prepared the design for implementation of the project (Emirates Tenders). Further, during corresponding negotiations, they decided to borrow the ideas of different masterpieces from the French museum during the period from six to eighteen months after beginning of its activity.
In 2008, the company Buro Happold, which specializes in engineering consultancy, signed a “contract to provide engineering services on the scheme” (Emirates Tenders). Nathalie Criniere, who was French, prepared the design for the given scheme (Emirates Tenders). There was a competition between six companies for the purpose to choose the most appropriate one, which could implement the designing works in Louvre Abu Dhabi. In 2009, the contractors had to meet numerous requirements from the client to submit pre-qualification documents. Within the related requirements, there were the following items:
minimum turnover of US$ 1 billion per year, minimum professional staff level of 1,000 employees, undertaken 5 building projects worth over US$ 500 million over the past 5 year, ability to meet the statutory requirements to perform work in Abu Dhabi, UAE, no major change in shareholding in the last 6 months (not more than 30%), and ability to produce Parent Company Guarantee (if relevant) (Emirates Tenders).
The client assigned three major contractors in 2009, which were UK’s Pascall & Watson Architects (the project consultant), Germany’s MERO-TSK International (the supplier of steel products), and Germany’s Bauer Spezialtiefbau (the enabling contract on this scheme) (Emirates Tenders). Therefore, such program of works required much time due to the great size of the project.
The major works started in 2010, when German company Bauer International signed the pilling contract. They expected to complete the foreseen activities within the following twenty weeks. “A total of 5,638 piles were driven into the ground, including 4,298 steel piles and 1,340 concrete piles, amounting to 94.2 kilometers in length” (Emirates Tenders). These works were the basis while they conducted preparations within the previous three years. As already mentioned above, there were several companies selected to complete the designing works of the project, which they implemented in March 2010. However, the contractors performed the pilling works in August 2010 (Emirates Tenders).
The following aim of the project was to develop the substructure. The client started seeking firms to bid for the main construction package in 2010. There were five groups, which submitted their proposals, such as Al-Habtoor Leighton Group, Brookfield Multiplex, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Samsung C&T; and Six Construct Abu Dhabi (Emirates Tenders). The next task was to find the company, which could “cover all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and specialist installations” (Emirates Tenders). There were special requirements for the concerned contractors. For example, they required from the firms to have the experience in completing the similar projects, to open representative office in Abu Dhabi, to possess the turnover more than 800 million AED, etc. (Emirates Tenders).
The contractors completed the major works in 2012. Moreover, the local company Drake & Scull International received the main construction contract (Emirates Tenders). “The contract is worth $653 million” (Emirates Tenders). Constructora San Jose and Oger Abu Dhabi were the partners in this project (Emirates Tenders). Another important task was to “carry out the concrete frameworks on this project” (Emirates Tenders). Robodh Contracting Company was responsible for this work (Emirates Tenders). They expected to execute the works in February 2014 (Emirates Tenders). Despite the fact that the concerned authorities initially planned to organize the opening ceremony in 2013, they had to postpone this date.
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Another important issue in the project was the dome construction. The dome is supported by four pieces, which are 9 meters high (Emirates Tenders). Moreover, it is clear in order to ensure that the sunshine is visible inside the museum. The contractor expected to complete this work by the end of 2014 (Emirates Tenders). The U.S. Company Turner Construction International was responsible for that part of the project. The next stage was a critical one since the task was dangerous. The aim was to “waterproof the museum’s basements” (Emirates Tenders). While executing the works, the contractor used the system of cathodic protection. The authorities assigned Drake & Scull and Tyco Fire & Security UAE to conduct the related task (Emirates Tenders).
They initially planned to spend 10 month for the construction of the dome. However, the firm completed this part of the project in 2015. It is worth noting that the dome consists of 85 segments (Emirates Tenders). In addition, the constructor provided the temporary platform to ensure comfort workplace for the workers.
The next step was construction of the first gallery, which was the largest one. Along with the construction of the dome and the first gallery, they executed the works for “the construction of the museum’s interior walls with installation of mechanical plant, water pipes, electrical cabling and security systems” (Emirates Tenders). The organizers announced that they would finish 20% of the total work by September 2014. In addition, the Energy Centre and the Security Screening Facility were completed. Action International Services is the company, which was responsible for the dewatering works.
As the project is very expensive and valuable, it requires reliable security. The UK company Gilgen Door Systems won the tender and received the contract “to supply high-security shutters, sectional overhead doors and security grills” (Emirates Tenders). It is necessary to ensure sufficient protection of the museum and use the new technologies. Therefore, Rolegard SR4 Security Shutter was the most efficient type of protection (Emirates Tenders).
After construction of the dome, the next plan was to transmit it from the temporary towers to four permanent piers. It was a crucial moment since they could destroy the yearly achievements in one minute. Nevertheless, after months of testing, they completed successfully the operation. The concerned company provided lift using 32 hydraulic jacks, which were prepared specifically for the project (Emirates Tenders). Those jacks were able to “hold up to 10,000 tons in weight” (Emirates Tenders). The weight of the structure is 7,000 tons, while the width is 180 meters (Emirates Tenders). It was a historical event, since this dome is the biggest in the whole world.
Although the company employed 5,000 workers to implement the project, it was not enough to complete the works within the expected terms. In 2015, it was necessary to postpone again the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi . The next step was to maintain healthcare in the museum. Therefore, the Abu Dhabi Civil Defense Building was the only company, which could provide emergency services. The officially opened the museum in 2015. The main designer of the project, Jean Nouvel, created the program “Rain of Light” (Emirates Tenders). They constructed the roof in a way that it had flying-saucer-shaped canopy (Emirates Tenders). It allowed the roof to let sunshine through the dome in a playful manner. The project was expensive but it is one of the main attractions in the museum. (Frutto, 2012)
The contractor finished the major construction works in 2016. The further task was to provide the equipment for the whole facility. Belgian company Meyvaert Glass Engineering was responsible for the installation of “display cases for the art pieces of this museum” (Emirates Tenders). These were the places in each gallery located in the middle of each section. The main feature of Louvre Abu Dhabi, as compared to other museums, is the fact that all the masterpieces are grouped by time, not by thematic or other criteria.
The company expected to complete the works in October 2015. However, it was necessary to extend the contract and hold the opening ceremony in 2016. The remaining activities included the “work on underside of the cladding” (Emirates Tenders). In January 2016, the involved companies completed almost all the construction works in the museum, and the organizers prepared installation of artwork (Emirates Tenders). Moreover, it was necessary to remove the temporary towers, which were set three years before. The responsible body for this work was company Al-Futtaim Engineering (Emirates Tenders). In addition, the client selected the firm Krantz, which had to provide air-conditioning. (Emirates Tenders).
Due to the location on the island, the museum has access to the sea. In summer 2016, the involved authorities provided integration of the sea into the museum project. Before starting this part of program, they removed water from the territory of museum to ensure comfortable conditions of work as well as its efficiency. In addition, there were three stages of sea integration. First, they raised slowly the water level around the museum. Second, “the remaining pumps were shut down and seawater was pumped inside the temporary hydraulic cut-off wall” (Emirates Tenders). Third, they raised the level of water to the sea level.
Although the project is successful and the process of works completion has not faced any difficulties, the progress is rather slow. The client planned to finish this construction in 2013 while the real opening ceremony will take place only in January 2017 if there are no other obstacles delaying the project works. Another great disadvantage of Abu Dhabi Louvre is its reputation. It is widely debated issue that the labor force mainly consists of migrants, whose work is exploited. According to the Guardian, these people “are subject to destitution, summary arrest and deportation if they complain about their squalid and unsafe conditions, an investigation by Human Rights Watch has found” (Jones, 2015). Otherwise, there are no any problems connected with the construction process of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The client plans to open the museum in 2017, most probably at the beginning of the year. According to Gulf News, the contractors have already completed around 95% of the works. (Diaa, 2016). Nevertheless, the project experiences the main stage of its construction, which is testing. Climate control is one of the most crucial issues in Abu Dhabi Louvre. It ensures comfortable stay of visitors as well as protection of artworks, which is its main function. Abu Dhabi Louvre is supposed to present the greatest masterpieces in the world from different historical periods. In addition, the United Arab Emirates plan to borrow French artworks during first six or eighteen month. Consequently, the organizers of Abu Dhabi Louvre have to ensure proper control before the expected opening. For the moment, there are no significant problems detected. However, if there are any discrepancies revealed in any part of the project during the checking, the organizers will postpone again the opening date, which is not beneficial to them.
Work to be Completed
After completion of checking, the project will experience the last stage of its construction, which is organization of “the logistics of the transport, shipping and installation of the artworks” (Leech, 2016). After completion of the construction works and sufficient checking, it is necessary to deliver and install the artworks in Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is the cornerstone of the project. American artist Jenny Holzer and Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone plan to “make up the first lot of contemporary artists to create installations for the permanent collection of this museum” (Emirates Tenders). One of the artists, Penone, has already created the installation, which represents the connection between “humanity, art and the natural world” (Emirates Tenders). It is impossible to underestimate the work of the two artists, since their contribution into the opening of Abu Dhabi Louvre is among the most significant ones.
It is worth noting that the process of works completion faces two main problems. First, it requires considerable amount of time. According to Rabate, the museum’s inaugural director, the organizational processes will last around four months, which can again postpone the opening ceremony (Leech, 2016). Second, there are numerous debates held between France and the United Arab Emirates connected with the issue whose contribution to the project is more important.
In conclusion, Louvre Abu Dhabi is the great project, which is deserves worldwide recognition and celebration. Construction of this museum is the largest cultural event of the 21st century. The project is worth respect since its organizers put much effort to ensure that everything is perfect. That is the main reason, for which they have several times postponed opening of the museum. In 2007, when the project commenced, the organizers planned to hold the opening ceremony in 2012. Then, they postponed the date to 2014, after which they expected to complete the works in 2015. Nowadays, the client scheduled the opening at the begging of 2017. However, the date remains not fixed and it is disputable that the opening will take place in January 2017. Considering the remaining works, it is possible to expect further delay of the project completion , however only for several months.