Jean Nouvel: Buildings that span culture and architecture

From the Paris Philharmonic and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi to the National Museum of Qatar: Every creation by star architect Jean Nouvel rises from the ground like an adventure waiting to be discovered. Nouvel’s style is radical, artistic and polarising; his buildings are designed to surprise. Back in 2008, the French architectural master was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize, an architectural accolade that is known and respected across the world. Now, at almost 75 years old, Nouvel has no plans to take a step back from architecture. Here are three of his most impressive cultural buildings.

1. Paris Philharmonic: An aluminium flock of birds

Among Jean Nouvel’s most controversial creations is the Paris Philharmonic, located in the north-east of the French capital.

The building, which was completed in 2015, features 340,000 stylised bird silhouettes etched into a futuristic aluminium exterior. At the centre of the building is an oval concert hall that can accommodate audiences of up to 2400 people. The unique shape of the hall ensures unrestricted views of the stage from any seat. The building also boasts a rooftop viewing platform at a height of 37 metres, promising panoramic views across Paris. But all of this comes at a cost: The project ran massively over budget and ended up costing 380 million euros rather than the 200 million euros originally allocated. To prevent the costs from escalating further, the Philharmonic was opened early, against the wishes of the architect.
Building of the Paris Philharmonic. Source: YouTube / Devisubox

2. Louvre, Abu Dhabi: An ode to the Arabian bazaar

The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is another example that proves how important the cultural context of a construction is to Jean Nouvel. Since November 2017, the large domed structure of this cultural building has been home to many international works of art displayed across 55 white cuboids that create a bazaar-like network of alleys and squares.

The dome itself is comprised of nine layers of geometric web-patterned aluminium and steel made up of 7850 star-shaped pieces with a total diameter of 180 metres. The arrangement of the stars casts sophisticated shadows onto the walls of the museum as sunlight penetrates the web.

Jean Nouvel integrates the cultural context into the museum. Source: YouTube / Louvre Abu Dhabi

3. National Museum of Qatar: Inspired by the desert rose

Reminiscent of the deconstructive style of Frank Gehry, the new National Museum in Qatar’s capital city Doha is a truly radical piece of architecture. Jean Nouvel completed the fascinating building – located on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf – in 2019. The museum rises proudly above the city skyline of apartment buildings and skyscrapers.

Jean Nouvel’s design was inspired by the desert rose: A natural rose-like formation of sand grains embedded in crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte.

Over 500 ceramic discs appear to be randomly layered to form the 400-metre long and 250-metre wide complex of buildings. Each disc is clad with shard-like fibre-reinforced concrete panels. Inside, the architectural structure produces angled, even asymmetrical spaces.

jean nouvel

From the Paris Philharmonic to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi: Around the world, Jean Nouvel continues to enrich the architectural landscape

with amazing new buildings, creatively integrating the unique cultural features of a region into his work.

Which of Jean Nouvel’s masterpieces is your favourite? We look forward to receiving your comments!

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