Drawing inspiration from traditional Islamic Mashrabiyyas (Lattice worked enclosures), architect Jean Nouvel designed this fantastic facade for the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
That elevation isn’t just decorative though.
It is in fact a giant ocular device. Its several hundred light sensing diaphragms regulate the amount of light penetrating the building by altering the size of their apertures….quite like the human eye! Its imperceptibly moving lenses creating the most dramatic patterns that are reflected on shiny interior surfaces and enhanced by the stark lines of the steel staircase. A few glass elevators add to the intense, visual drama!
This award winning design (Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989, and the Equirre d’Argent for French architecture in 1987) is currently out of order and is awaiting millions of dollars worth of repairs with funds donated by Saudi Arabia.
I am grateful I got to see it in action on an earlier visit…
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