2017. In 2009, a team from the National School of
Architecture of Grenoble tested out the dome’s design
in principle using light-based parametric design.
‘The problem was to define the perforation ratio
of the dome. The key idea is a variation of the
perforation ratio, apparently randomly, but actually
materialising the lighting intentions expressed by
the team,’ the study reported.
Later testing included the construction of a full-scale mock-up of a gallery in the laboratories of the
Building Research Establishment in the UK and
the use of computer models that used computational
fluid dynamics to predict the movement of air
through the museum.
‘We have tested a mock-up of the dome in Abu Dhabi
and have also undertaken testing in China because
the constructor is a Chinese company,’ says Nouvel.
‘As we tested materials, it became obvious that it had
to be stainless steel. We considered how it behaved in
terms of light, how it would age in its specific climate,
and how it can be cleaned, because this is important,
too. There were questions about dangers to birds,
possible security concerns, maintenance needs as
people had to access it and so on.
‘It was important also to study how the cupola could
be built, how to make the transition between patterns
and the way the edge is handled. The edge is like a
flat ring where there is a superposition of different
patterns and it is only 9m above the ground.’
To reflect its maritime location, BuroHappold worked
with AJN to evaluate ways of bringing the element
of water into the museum, using tidal pools that
reflect the light filtering through the glazed roof, ▼