0

2

 

0

5

 

0

9

 

A

R

C

H

I

T

E

C

T

U

R

E

 

0

2

 

0

5

 

0

9

 

 

 

 

   

 


Georges Fessy

 
       
 

Architecture in Paris

   
 

Clash of Civilizations!

   

 

  

 

Architecturally speaking, the Institut du Monde Arabe is one of our favorite buildings in Paris, one of our favorite buildings ever.  And it sits right by another old favorite - the great cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.  The smallest of Mitterand's Grand Projets, and designed by celebrated French architect Jean Nouvel in the late 80's, the Institut is worth taking a trip to check out the next time one is in Paris. 

Notre Dame sits diagonally across from the Institut du Monde Arabe - the two buildings look at each other across the Seine in silent architectural dialogue with each other, echoes of the centuries floating across the water.  Notre Dame sits there with its pointed arches that the crusaders brought back from the Arab world.  One cannot think of the cathedral of Notre Dame without thinking of Victor Hugo who said in his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame: "Notre-Dame is a structure in transition. The Saxon architect was just finishing the first pillars of the nave, when the pointed arch, arriving from the Crusades, came and seated itself like a conqueror upon the broad Romanesque capitals which had been designed to support only circular arches…."

And the Institut du Monde Arabe is itself self-consciously hybrid architecture at its best and the incorporation of Arabic elements in 20th century architecture has never been done so boldly or so dramatically.  It somehow manages to be both unabashedly ornamental and yet, always, modern. 

Nouvel aligned the North face of the Institut with the towers of Notre Dame, acknowledging the building, and on the fritted glass etched a computer-generated image of the skyline in white ceramic.  However, it is the expanse of wall that faces South that has become emblematic of the building.  It is in essence an Islamic screen, alluding to the patterned latticework or moucharabieh found in Moorish balconies.  The wall is scientifically calibrated and the diaphragms of metal work much like a camera lens to adjust the amount of sunlight let into the building, casting a beautiful dappled light on the interior by day. 

We think that Victor Hugo, the poet of Paris and its architecture, would have approved. 

 

Visit: Institut du Monde Arabe 

See: Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris 

Tags: paris

 

 

 

       
 

 
       
     

Subscribe About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Editorial Policy  

Unsubscribe  Press Archives Search

 

 

 

©2009 eCognoscente