The Bulgarian-born American artist who wrapped Berlin’s Reichstag, Paris’ Pont Neuf and New York’s Central Park in fabric is going structural with the world’s biggest permanent sculpture for Abu Dhabi.

The flat-topped Mastaba, designed by Christo, will be made from 410,000 oil barrels and will measure 150 meters high — taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza’s 139 meters. The monumental pyramid-with-a-haircut has an estimated construction cost of $340 million, making it the most expensive sculpture on the globe.

A site near Liwa oasis, about 100 miles from Abu Dhabi city, has been approved, The Observer reported. The stacked barrels of the sculpture will be painted in colors inspired by the region’s yellow and red sands, evoking an Islamic mosaic, Christo told The Observer: “When the sun rises, the vertical wall will become almost full of gold.”

The project has been over three decades in the making, starting with a series of drawings by Christo in 1977. The Mastaba’s construction will take about 30 months, and the sculpture will be accompanied by an art campus, luxury hotel and restaurant (of course). Christo’s aim was to design a colossal piece that would reflect traditional Islamic architecture, the artist told The Observer: “When Louis XIV was building that kitschy castle Versailles, the greatest architecture in the Middle East had incredible simplicity… and play with colors.”

Below are shots of a second scale model at the proposed location, photographs by Wolfgang Volz on Christo’s official site:


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