Icebergs - Louis Vuitton Foundation

Pouma / Iemants
Paris, France

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is a new museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Gehry Partners and located in the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Gehry stands for iconic architectural projects, characterized by non-repetitive and complex geometries.

The museum’s structural core consists of a series of solid volumes called “the icebergs” which support floating glass canopies (”a cloud of glass”) covering the entire building. Structurally, the icebergs are designed as concrete or steel frameworks. The facade is covered with +/- 16,000 ceramic tiles (Ductal). Every single element has a unique geometry in order to follow the smooth lines and various facets of the facade.

Over 2000 aluminum wall panels were designed and fabricated in order to obtain a support structure for the ceramic tiles. Each of these panels follows exactly the outside geometry of the facade surface and contains stiffening elements located underneath every joint between the ceramic tiles. The panels are connected to the steel or concrete structure by means of specifically designed spacers.

Gehry Technologies implemented a 3D project delivery system, Digital Projectâ„¢ for the 3D design and data exchange for BIM collaboration. This way the complex 3D information was easily accessible for all participating teams. The aluminum cladding panels are fabricated by Iemants staalconstructies nv. In order to keep this process both economically and technically acceptable, Pouma developed specific software tools, which resulted in a highly automated production process.

Starting with the input derived from the designers’ 3D models, all relevant geometrical data was imported in Grasshopper/Rhino. This software environment allowed Pouma to develop tools, which then could be used to semi-automatically generate each individual panel, including a large amount of detailing.

Finally, the geometrically correct panels were imported in Tekla in which the fine-tuning of each unique panel was done.

Due to the complex geometry, building up workshop drawings demanded a specific approach. Using scribing lines, CNC-driven export files and control coordinates, the steel contractor was able to assemble the panels in a way fabrication tolerances were limited to the minimum.

Through this automated approach, different teams on different locations were able to collaborate simultaneously, following equal standards.