Waterproofing work starts on Louvre Abu Dhabi

The long-awaited Louvre museum on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island is entering one of its most critical construction stages as the 9,200 square metre museum slowly begins to take shape.

Cranes tower over the Louvre construction site where workers now waterproof the museum's lower basement level, which is 7m below sea level. Silvia Razgova / The National
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The long-awaited Louvre museum on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island is entering one of its most critical construction stages as the 9,200 square metre museum begins to take shape.
Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the government-owned company that is developing the Abu Dhabi branch of the renowned French art gallery announced yesterday that work had started on waterproofing its vast basements. The complex process involves passing an electrical charge through each of the 3,200 steel piles holding up the museum structure to prevent corrosion and then installing a special waterproofing membrane in the walls of the basements seven metres below sea level.
The work is critical for the Jean Nouvel-designed museum, which intends to use the basements to transport and store inestimable artworks from around the world.
By its scheduled opening in 2015, the Louvre will be surrounded by seawater.
Work is currently taking place on a temporary platform, with 14-metre deep concrete walls keeping the water out and allowing construction to take place in a dry environment. Once the work is complete, the walls will be removed to allow seawater to flow in gradually. The work is being undertaken by Dubai-based contractor Arabtec, which was awarded the Dh2.4 billion contract to construct the museum.
The news comes just days after police were called to help quell disruption at other Arabtec-run projects as workers staged a series of strikes demanding better pay.
More than 460 construction workers involved in the strikes have been sent back to their home countries after quitting their jobs following the disruption.
"We are delighted with the rapid advancement that has taken place in the museum's construction during the 600,000 working hours logged so far, including the completion of two sections of the lower basement foundation slab," said Ali Al Hammadi, the deputy managing director of TDIC.
So far the 1,400 construction workers on the site have built three massive concrete foundation piers each measuring 16 by 16 metres that will support the museum's 180 metre-wide dome, which is expected to weigh more than 7,000 tonnes.
When it opens in two years, the museum will comprise a 6,681-sq metre gallery to house the museum's permanent collection and 2,364 sq metres of temporary gallery space hosting international art exhibitions.


lbarnard@thenational.ae