Jean Nouvel is a French Architect. He won the number of awards in his profession including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2005 and the Pritzker Prize in 2008.
Jean Nouvel founded Jean Nouvel et Associés in 1985 with his junior architects Jean-Marc Ibos, Mirto Vitart and Emmanuel Blamont. In 1994, he founded Ateliers Jean Nouvel with Michel Pélissié. Ateliers Jean Nouvel is one of the largest architectural firms in France. Here are the 15 remarkable projects by Jean Nouvel:
1. Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017) by Jean Nouvel
A lattice dome dominates the design for this art museum and cultural center in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a diameter of nearly 600 feet (180 meters), the dome is reminiscent of an iconic sports stadium, much like Beijing’s National Stadium from 2008, the Bird’s Nest in China, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. But as the Beijing metal lattice acts as siding for a container, Nouvel’s multi-layered lattice is the cover of the container, acting both as protection for the historic collection of art and artifacts and as a lattice filter for the sun, which becomes starlight to interior spaces. Over 50 separate buildings — galleries, cafes, and meeting places — huddle around the dome disc, which itself is surrounded by waterways. The complex was built in conjunction with a signed agreement with the French government and the UAE.
Jean Nouvel burst onto the architecture scene in the 1980s by unexpectedly winning the commission for the Arab World Institute‘s building in Paris. Built between 1981 and 1987, the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) is a museum for Arabian art. Symbols from Arabian culture combine with high-tech glass and steel. The building has two faces. On the north side, facing the river, the building is sheathed in glass which is etched with a white ceramic image of the adjacent skyline. On the south side, the wall is covered with what seems to be moucharabieh or mashrabiya, the kind of latticed screens found on patios and balconies in Arab countries. The screens are grids of automated lenses used to control the light entering the interior spaces. The aluminum lenses are arranged in a geometric pattern and covered with glass. To regulate light, Nouvel invented an automated lens system that operates like a camera shutter. A computer monitors external sunlight and temperature. Motorized diaphragms were automatically open or close as needed. Inside the museum, light and shadow are integral parts of the design.
This modern office tower overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, which can be seen through the glass elevators. Nouvel drew inspiration from Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí when he designed the cylindrical Agbar Tower in Barcelona, Spain. Like much of Gaudí’s work, the skyscraper is based on the catenary curve — a parabola shape formed by a hanging chain. Jean Nouvel explains that the shape evokes the mountains of Montserrat surrounding Barcelona and also suggests the shape of a rising geyser of water. The missile-shaped building is often described as phallic, earning the structure an assortment of off-color nicknames. Because of its unusual shape, Agbar Tower has been compared to Sir Norman Foster’s 2004 “Gherkin tower” at 30 St. Mary’s Axe in London. The 473-foot (144 meters) Agbar Tower is constructed of reinforced concrete sheathed with red and blue glass panels, reminiscent of the colorful tiles on buildings by Antoni Gaudí. At night, the exterior architecture is brilliantly illuminated with LED lights shining from more than 4,500 window openings. Glass blinds are motorized, opening and closing automatically to regulate the temperature inside the building. The brie-solei (brise soleil) sun-shading louvers extend from colored security glass window panels; some south-facing materials are photovoltaic and generate electricity. The exterior shell of glass louvers has made climbing the skyscraper an easy task.
4. One Central Park, Sydney (2014) by Jean Nouvel
To handle Spain’s hot sun, Nouvel designed Agbar Tower with a skin of adjustable louvers, which made climbing the skyscraper’s exterior walls a quick and easy task for daredevil stuntmen. Within the decade after well-publicized climbs, Nouvel had devised an entirely different residential design for the Australian sun. The award-winning One Central Park in Sydney, Australia with its hydroponics and heliostats makes the building-climbing challenge more like a walk in the park. The Pritzker Prize jury said he would do this: “Nouvel has pushed himself, as well as those around him, to consider new approaches to conventional architectural problems.” Working with the French botanist Patrick Blanc, Nouvel designed one of the first residential “vertical gardens.” Thousands of indigenous plants are taken a-flight inside and out, making “the grounds” everywhere. Landscape architecture is redefined as heating and cooling systems are integrated into the building’s mechanical systems.
Completed in 2006, the Musée du Quai Branly (Quai Branly Museum) in Paris appears to be a wild, disorganized jumble of colorful boxes. To add to the sense of confusion, a glass wall blurs the boundary between the outer streetscape and the inner garden. Passers-by cannot distinguish between reflections of trees or blurred images beyond the wall. Inside Musée des Arts Premiers, architect Jean Nouvel plays architectural tricks to highlight the museum’s diverse collections. Concealed light sources, invisible showcases, spiral ramps, shifting ceiling heights, and changing colors combine to ease the transition between periods and cultures.
The Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art was completed in 1994, well before the Quai Branly Museum. Both buildings have glass walls dividing the streetscape from the museum grounds. Both buildings experiment with light and reflection, confusing the inner and outer boundaries. But the Quai Branly Museum is bold, colorful, and chaotic, while the Cartier Foundation is a sleek, sophisticated modernist work rendered in glass and steel. “When virtuality is attacked by reality,” writes Nouvel, “architecture must more than ever have the courage to take on the image of contradiction.” The real and the virtual blend in this design.
7. Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis (2006)
Architect Jean Nouvel experimented with color and light when he designed the nine-story Guthrie Theater complex in Minnesota. Completed in 2006 and built in the historic Mills District on the banks of the Mississippi River, the theater is shocking blue by day — unlike other theaters of this period. When night falls, the walls melt into the darkness and enormous, illuminated posters fill the space. A yellow terrace and orange LED images on the towers to add vivid splashes of color.
The Pritzker jury noted that Jean Nouvel’s design for the Guthrie is “responsive to the city and the nearby Mississippi River, and yet, it is also an expression of theatricality and the magical world of performance.”
8. 40 Mercer Street, New York City (2007) by Jean Nouvel
Located in the SoHo section of New York City, the relatively small project at 40 Mercer Street posed special challenges for architect Jean Nouvel. Local zoning boards and a landmarks-preservation commission set rigid guidelines on the type of building that could be constructed there. Nouvel’s modest beginnings in Lower Manhattan hardly anticipated the towering residential skyscraper at 53 West 53rd Street. By 2019 the million-dollar condominiums at Tower Verre in Midtown Manhattan topped out at 1,050 feet (320 meters).
Architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote that “The building clatters; it jangles like a bracelet.” Yet standing directly across the street from Frank Gehry’s I.A.C. Building and Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses, 100 Eleventh Avenue completes the Big Apple’s Pritzker Laureate triangle.
The residential condominium building at 100 Eleventh Avenue in the Chelsea area of New York City stands a mere 250 feet — 56 apartments on 21 floors.
“The architecture diffracts, captures and watches,” writes architect Jean Nouvel. “On a curving angle, like that of the eye of an insect, differently-positioned facets catch all of the reflections and throw out sparkles. The apartments are within the ‘eye’, splitting up and reconstructing this complex landscape: one framing the horizon, one framing the white curve in the sky and another framing the boats on the Hudson River and, on the other side, framing the mid-town skyline. The transparencies are in-keeping with the reflections and the textures of the New York brickwork contrast with the geometric composition of the large rectangles of clear glass. The architecture is an expression of the pleasure of being at this strategic point in Manhattan.”
When the new Philharmonie de Paris opened in 2015, The Guardian’s architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, linked its design to a “gargantuan grey shell wrenched to and fro as if battered by an intergalactic skirmish.” Wainwright was not the only critic to see a broken StarWars extra crashed on the Paris landscape. “It is a tyrannical hulk of a thing,” he said. Even Pritzker Laureates don’t bat a thousand — and when they strike out, it’s never their fault.
Architecture critic Paul Goldberger has written that “it’s not easy to characterize his work; his buildings share no immediately recognizable style.” Is Jean Nouvel a modernist? A postmodernist? Deconstructionist? For most critics, the inventive architect defies classification. “Nouvel’s buildings are so distinct, and redefine their genres so thoroughly,” writes architecture critic Justin Davidson, “that they don’t seem like products of the same image.”
The Gasometers in Vienna are four former gas tanks, each of 90,000 m³ storage capacities, built as part of the Vienna municipal gas works Gaswerk Simmering in 1896–1899. They are located in the 11th district, Simmering. They were used from 1899 to 1984 as gas storage tanks. After the changeover from town gas to natural gas between 1969 and 1978, they were no longer used and were shut down. Only the brick exterior front walls were preserved. The structures have found new residential and commercial use in modern times.
12. Dentsu Building by Jean Nouvel
The Dentsu Building or Dentsu Headquarters Building’s 48 floors rise to 213.34 m (700 ft), it is the twelfth-tallest building in Tokyo and second-tallest in Shiodome, next to Shiodome City Center. It was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and completed in 2002. It was built over the site of Tokyo’s first train station and sits aside the Hamarikyu Gardens, formerly the site of a shōgun‘s vacation home. The Dentsu building is an example of contemporary architecture, featuring collectors on the roof to utilize rainwater for its plumbing system, as well as ceramic dots on the windows which, in concert with computerized window shades, control climate control expenditure. The Dentsu building has 70 elevators, including a special elevator reserved only for VIPs and executive management.
The Serpentine Galleries are two contemporary art galleries in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Central London. Comprising the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, linked by the bridge over the Serpentine Lake from which the galleries get their names. Their exhibitions, architecture, education and public programs attract up to 1.2 million visitors a year. Admission to both galleries is free.
The National Museum of Qatar is a museum in Doha, Qatar. The museum opened to the public on 28 March 2019. The building, which was constructed in place of the original Qatar National Museum, was designed by architect Jean Nouvel who got his inspiration from the desert rose crystal, which can be found in Qatar. The museum site includes Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani’s Palace, which is the heart of the Qatari national identity.
15. Expo.02 by Jean Nouvel
Expo.02 was the 6th Swiss national exposition, which was held from 15 May to 20 October 2002. The exposition took place around the lakes of Neuchâtel, Bienne/Biel, and Morat / Murten. It was divided into five sites, which were called Arteplages, due to the proximity of the water (some sites were partially or built on the water). The five arteplages were located in Neuchâtel, Yverdon-Les-Bains, Morat / Murten, Biel / Bienne and on a mobile barge traveling from one site to another. The barge represented the canton of Jura, which does not have access to any one of the three lakes.