Louvre Abu Dhabi

Structural Designer

BuroHappold Engineering

Client Name

Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC)


Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

Arabtec, Constructora San José and Oger Abu Dhabi (ASO - consortium)

Jean Nouvel

Waagner Biro
  Images: © Philip Handforth & Mohamed Somji


The Louvre Abu Dhabi was the catalyst for the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island. The design can be described as a ‘museum city’ sitting beneath a 180m steel domed canopy. The dome is composed of 11,000 elements and over 2,000 connections supported on only four bearings.

Judge's comment:

BuroHappold Engineering have engineered a 180m diameter dome in a unique manner to deliver the aesthetic desired by the architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel. The patternisation was derived from the standard cladding unit to avoid secondary support and was developed in a manner to avoid lines of strength.   

Rather than having the option of continuous perimeter support, the dome is supported at only 4 perimeter points and requires sufficient stiffness for the dome rim to hover so as to create a horizontal line only 1m above the galleries.

Structural optimisation against the aesthetic requirements and engineering constraints was used to minimise structural weight. The dome has a perimeter belt truss, central arching and zones of perimeter bending. 

A dome at this scale is impressive but with the element arrangement and supports driven by the aesthetics, the structural engineering has been integral to the delivery of this beautiful dome.