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Jean Nouvel Interview

Also on Ionarts:

New Opera Houses (May 29, 2005)

William Christie's Poppea in Lyon (January 28, 2005)

New Museum at the Quai Branly (December 28, 2004)
Jean Nouvel is the architect of the new opera theater in Lyon and the new Musée du Quai Branly. Although he did not get the commission to rebuild Les Halles in Paris, he is presently building the new concert hall in Copenhagen, and the Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst there is currently showing an exhibit on Nouvel's work, Jean Nouvel: Louisiana Manifesto, right now (through September 18). In a recent interview with Frédéric Edelmann ("La provocation n'est pas un moteur architectural", August 14) for Le Monde, he talks about his theories of what good architecture is (my translation):
I think that each site, each city deserves individual consideration. I begin by analyzing the situation, by listening, partaking in dialogue, bringing together all the people who might make a project richer, before making a sketch. It's an ethical position, and that puts me in conflict with most of my friends and colleagues. I had the pleasure of rediscovering all of that in the Louisiana Museum, which represents for me an exemplary work of architecture, full of simplicity, delicacy, depth. I don't know if I could do as well, but I know that it is my ideal. Of course, it's a small museum, situated in nature, and it's easier to be "Louisianan" in those circumstances that when you are building a mall in the suburbs.


Projects are Louisianan when they seek to serve the spirit of the location, the desire of people, of the countryside, of the buildings that came before it. Projects that begin with the idea of modification rather than disconnecting from the context. What is important is to consider that each place is a stage in a mutation and must be part of a geographic and historic continuity. At the same time, my attitude is not modest. Let's make this clear: the desire to analyze and understand does not prevent me from expressing something, from inventing, and in that sense Utopia is a part of it.
I hope that David Sucher at City Comforts will weigh in on whether Nouvel is actually building what he thinks he is.

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