Louvre Abu Dhabi: the end of an experiment


A giant experimental apparatus, the Rain of Light was built with one very specific purpose in mind, as a test chamber for the analysis of a 1:1 scale prototype section of the museum’s canopy. Silvia Razgova / The National
A giant experimental apparatus, the Rain of Light chamber was built with one very specific purpose in mind, to test a 1:1 scale prototype section of the museum’s 180 metre-wide canopy. Silvia Razgova / The National

For the past five years a grey, wedge-shaped monolith on the north-west corner of Saadiyat Island has been one of the most curious landmarks on Abu Dhabi’s rapidly changing skyline.

Named after the optical effect it was built to test, the Rain of Light chamber was completed soon after construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi began in March 2009.

As German foundation specialist Bauer International sank 100 kilometres of steel and more than 4,500 concrete pilings into the sand to start the project, the chamber was the only part visible from the 1.4-kilometre, 10-lane Sheikh Khalifa Bridge crossing from Abu Dhabi island.

During 2011 and 2012, the years of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s apparent hiatus, it appeared more like the vestige of a vision whose future was far from clear.

But since last year when the contract for Louvre Abu Dhabi was finally awarded and the current phase of construction began, the Rain of Light has slowly receded from view.

Obscured by the efforts of 5,000 workers over 19-million man hours, the Rain of Light was soon overshadowed by an even more distinctive landmark – the curving form of the Louvre’s 180-metre wide roof.

Now the chamber is to disappear for good….

For the rest of this story, read The National

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