Louvre Abu Dhabi to start testing cladding panels

The six-metre-diameter dome is currently being used to test the play of light and shadows on the site prior to fabrication of the final structure of the museum. (SUPPLIED)

The aluminium cladding panels on the prototype of the dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island are expected to be installed and tested, according to a senior official at Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) – the master developer of the island.

The six-metre-diameter dome is currently being used to test the play of light and shadows on the site prior to fabrication of the final structure of the museum. The official added that the developer is going through the procurement process of the night lighting, which will be installed for testing on the mock-up.

"The mock-up reflects the actual materials that will be used on the actual project and is also testing the ambient light conditions," said Felix Reinberg, Project Director, Cultural District at TDIC. "Our next step is the installation of the actual cladding panels, which are now being manufactured in China and will be shipped out to Abu Dhabi from Shanghai in the coming week. We will test different finishes on such as anodised and powder-coated finishes on the dome.

"We will also use different colours to try to keep a balance between keeping the light conditions dark enough to allow the rest of the light to come through into the project but at the same time, not create a dark atmosphere."

Meanwhile, the construction of the project is on track and the sub-structure contract on the actual project will be awarded by end-May or early-June, while the main contractor will be appointed in September after a tendering process in March.

The Jean Nouvel designed project, which is due for completion in 2012, will be housed in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island with the Zayed National Museum and the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum and forms part of Phase 1.

"The market conditions have changed quite a bit since the financial crisis and we have changed the procurement process by separating the process into packages," said Stuart Magee, Executive Director (project delivery) at TDIC. The museum witnessed groundbreaking in May 2009.

The first package on the Louvre Abu Dhabi was the enabling works package, which is now complete and was executed by Bauer International. It was completed in January 2010 after 503,000 m3 of earth had been excavated to accommodate the base of the museum.

The project has now entered the piling works phase, which has been awarded through a competitive tendering process again to Bauer. Work will progress over the following 20 weeks. A total of 5,638 piles will be driven into the ground, including 4,298 steel piles and 1,340 concrete piles, amounting to 94.2km in length, said a TDIC statement.

"This contract constitutes the second sequential package and has been followed by the sub-structure package, which was tendered last week to construct the concrete and waterproofing works up to ground level," said Magee.

In terms of award, the sub-structure package will be awarded by end-May or early-June, he told Emirates Business. "That coincides nicely with the completion of the piling works. We have carefully commenced the work so that when one contract finishes, the next one commences," he said. "This will be followed by the main contract in three-and-a-half weeks to execute all remaining works, which includes the dome and cladding."

The entire project will finish in 2013 though the building will be completed in 2012.

"We are on schedule for substantial completion of the building works by September 2012, which will put us on schedule to open the building a year later," said Magee. "Landscaping, which forms part of the main contract, will be completed during the last 12 months of the project from substantial completion to the opening date." The main contract period is 24 months and that includes the superstructure and dome, he said.

Meanwhile, the enabling works for Zayed Museum is completed while the enabling works for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is in progress, added Reinberg. "All three museums are under construction at present and on track to open as announced," he said. "The Maritime Museum is part of Phase 2."

 

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