Gallery: Jean Nouvel’s Stunning Museum Façade Dilates to Let in Dayligh...


France’s longstanding relationship with Islamic culture is embodied in Jean Nouvel‘s stunning Institut du Monde Arabe. The visionary design surprised the 19 donor nations when they first saw the concept in the 1980’s. Far from a traditional austere building, the institute features radical high-tech walls emblazoned with mechanical apertures that respond to sunlight by narrowing to reduce solar exposure or dilating to allow daylight to suffuse the interior.

The unique windows of the Parisian museum are reminiscent of the intricate Arabic patterns seen in many buildings — but with a twist. The windows are composed of metal eyes that dilate according to outdoor light conditions. The interior is host to a changing and complex lighting effect that layers daylight from the 30,000 apertures. Since the kinetic wall is facing the south, the building controls thermal exposure and interior lighting with a single system.

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  1. Foster + Partners' Carb... October 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    […] buildings are clad in an undulating terra-cotta-like latticework based on traditional Arabic mashrabiya screens that mimic an architectural vocabulary indigenous to the area. The recently completed area, […]

  2. mmacdonald September 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    no it doesn’t (and hasn’t for 20+ years).

  3. Nennesse September 19, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Beautiful indeed, but has never operate properly. For years, “does it work” was areccurent question to M. Nouvel in any conferences.

  4. Green Roof City is a Gi... September 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

    […] student housing will be located at the southern end of the site. Rotating timber screens on the façade will provide both privacy and shade. The screens also add to the aesthetic quality of the structure […]

  5. doniat September 17, 2010 at 4:02 am

    First of all, i’m french, so my english may be not perfectly correct.
    I know and i like this building. The fact is, when it was built, poeple wanted to see the windows system moving. So Mr Nouvel can’t use his concept perfectly to control lightness and heat. But, maybe today, this mobile system is realy operating in the right way, to save energy.

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