The Mastaba (Project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

© Christo 2012

The Mastaba is a large-scale sculpture by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in the desert of Abu Dhabi, formed with 440,000 multi-colored oil barrels. Arranged on their sides, the lids of these brightly colored barrels will create a mosaic pattern along the vertical sides of the sculpture. The primary structure is designed as a directional steel truss framework consisting of a uniform sequence of rhomboid cells, which offers bi-directional load-bearing behavior. A three-layer steel framework was chosen for the sloped sides, while two layers were utilized for the vertical sides and top. The barrels at the outside walls are fixed to a secondary structure which allows for maintenance from inside of the sculpture. Since the ten-day erection process is part of the artists’ performance, a highly advanced erection process has been developed—wherein the goal was to find a solution that does not generate stress results that are higher than in the final state. The Mastaba can only be viewed from the exterior and will be the artists’ only permanent large-scale work.

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Wacker Ingenieure (wind engineering), Vees und Partner (geotechnics)
Project Responsibility
Mike Schlaich


Technical Data

Main plan dimensions
approx. 300 m (vertical sides) x 225 m
(984 ft (vertical sides) x 738 ft)
approx. 150 m (492 ft)
Sloped sides
60 degree
Horizontal surface on top
approx. 127 m x 225 m (416 ft x 738 ft)
approx. 440,000 (55 gallons/200 l), steel
reinforced-concrete base plate




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