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Case study: Jotun coatings at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Yulia Gvozdeva explains how the protective coating that Jotun has provided for Louvre Abu Dhabi’s geometric dome will guard the structure against the harsh elements of the Middle East

Yulia Gvozdeva, global product manager for building components at Jotun Powder Coatings.
Yulia Gvozdeva, global product manager for building components at Jotun Powder Coatings.

Born out of an inter-governmental agreement between Abu Dhabi and France in March 2007, Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is being built on Saadiyat Island, is intended to be a place for cultural and educational exchange. The museum will be housed inside a structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel.

The Louvre museum is part of a wider cultural district being developed by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which also includes the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum.

As a part of the architecture, two-thirds of the museum is covered by a white dome of 180m (590 feet) in diameter. The dome’s random – but carefully designed – arrangement of geometric openings was inspired by the interlaced palm leaves traditionally used as roofing material. The apertures will make it possible to control the light and temperature inside. The interior will be illuminated by a shifting ‘rain of light’, reminiscent of the Arabic mashrabiya and the beams of light that illuminate souks.

Extending out over the water, the dome’s reflection will in turn cast a shimmering light on the underside of the building’s ‘skin’.

On closer inspection, the dome is made up of eight layers of cladding – four outer and four inner – with its structure in between. These layers consist of 7,850 star-shaped pieces of aluminium and stainless steel of various sizes and angles, the largest of which measures 13m in diameter and weighs 1.3 tonnes. The outer cladding consists of 4,481 stars and is now 100% complete and installed.

In order to protect the cladding from the harsh climatic conditions, Jotun Powder Coatings was handed the responsibility of providing heat-reflective coatings for the structure.

Outlining Jotun’s action plan, Yulia Gvozdeva, global product manager for building components at Jotun Powder Coatings, says: “Climate in the Gulf represents a challenge to architects and developers due to high levels of solar radiation, humidity, and salinity of the air and soil. Hence, for this masterpiece we used our heat-reflective coating, Cool Shades, which is primarily meant for sustainable façades.

“By reflecting sunlight, the coating allows coated parts of the façade to stay cool – ensuring that less heat goes inside the building. Ambient temperature doesn’t get higher and less air conditioning is needed to keep occupants comfortable.”

This product feature is attributed to its use of heat management pigment technology, which reflects infrared energy from sunlight and keeps coated surfaces cooler, while simultaneously absorbing visible light energy to retain colour vibrancy.

Colours included in the collection have been designed to complement both modern and traditional architecture, particularly across window frames, curtain walls, shutters, louvers and wall panels.

Commenting on the sustainability feature of the product, Gvozdeva said that to ensure the temperature of the coated dome surface remains cooler, Jotun has strictly followed green building standards such as LEED, Estidama, and Dubai Green Building regulations, which recommend using heat-reflective materials on roofing and shading structures.

She adds: “In summer, urban surfaces absorb a huge amount of heat during the day and release this heat back in the atmosphere during the night, not allowing the air to cool and keeping urban temperatures several degrees higher than in the rural areas. This is called ‘heat island effect’.

“For the Louvre dome, we have made sure that our coating reduces energy consumption by keeping surface and ambient temperature lower, and making the structure more comfortable for the occupants.

“The product used to coat the dome has a lifecycle of 25 to 30 years and has been is confirmed by real weathering tests in Florida, and a variety of other tests. Our products were developed to preserve resources, ensure comfort, and increase efficiency of resources involved in the construction projects,” Gvozdeva continues.

The most challenging aspects of the Louvre Abu Dhabi build have been completed. The final piece of outer cladding was installed in September 2015, and TDIC said that the project is now almost 95% complete. Construction at the site is scheduled to be completed before the end of this year.

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