Louvre Abu Dhabi: Jean Nouvel’s spectacular palace of culture shimmers in the desert
With its cosmic dome and starry latticework, the French architect’s water-lapped Gulf outpost shuns the petrodollar glitz of its neighbours. But there’s no whitewashing the appalling treatment of the labourers who built its light-filled halls
Hovering just above the sandy shores of Saadiyat Island like an upturned colander washed up on the beach, the metallic-domed roof of the new Louvre Abu Dhabi doesn’t give much away from the outside.
A cluster of white blocks spreads out from beneath the great cupola like scattered sugar cubes, forming little streets and squares, like a village in the desert. And compared with the garish mirror-glass towers of the city’s seafront corniche across the water, this multimillion-pound palace of culture seems almost modest.