Jean Nouvel: Architecture is listening

Meet the award winning French architect Jean Nouvel, in this interview about his relationship to the Arab world. The architect is supposed to listen, Nouvel states, instead of imposing his own values and sensitivities on another place.

In the Arab world there is a battle about identity and modernity going on. Because the development is so fast, you get a lot of misplaced architecture, without local color or identity, Jean Nouvel explains. For him it is important that the architecture reflects Arab identity and religion. Arab architecture is often connected to Islamic architecture, which has a special relationship with geometry, abstractions, decorations, light and water.

Jean Nouvel is known for his contextual approach to architecture, opposing the standard or pre-fabricated buildings being placed all around the world: “My job is to try and understand where the architecture will be situated, how it will be rooted, and what sense it will make where it is.” To Jean Nouvel it is important that the same building could not be located in another place. A building takes part in history, Jean Nouvel explains: “A building always has links, roots. I’m a contextual architect, but for me the context isn’t only the site. It’s above all a wider historical context – a cultural context.” Nouvel also talks about how he believes architecture builds bridges between societies.

Jean Nouvel (b.1945) studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was a founding member of Mars 1976 and Syndicat de l’Architecture. He has obtained a number of prestigious distinctions over the course of his career, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, awarded for the Institut du Monde Arabe which Nouvel talks about in the beginnig of this interview. In 2008 Nouvel was awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. A number of museums and architectural centers have presented retrospectives of his work.

Jean Nouvel was interviewed at his studio in Paris by Marc-Christoph Wagner, Dec. 2013
Filmed by Germain Ferey
Edited by Martin Kogi
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014
Supported by Nordea-fonden
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
TITLE | Founder of Architecture Lab
About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

Leave a Comment