3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel

3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel

This week we have the “3 degrees of Jean Nouvel”, a thinly-veiled attempt at a thematic post set out in three parts; The Architect, The Botanist and The Photographer.

Jean Nouvel (photograph by Thomas Mayer)

The Architect : Jean Nouvel
Every architect’s favourite Dr. Evil look-a-like, Jean Nouvel, reveals all in a personal interview. Learn about his seasonal dressing habits, his small “pets”, and his love of silence. Apart from that, he does get to express why his architecture is so evocative:

there is the desire to analyze and understand the world but this should not prevent us from expressing something, from inventing, and in that sense ‘utopia’ is a part of our work.

More on the the man behind the utopian architecture here. Alternatively, have a look at a slideshow of Nouvel buildings by a bunch of talented photographers.

The Botanist : Patrick Blanc
Next is an interview by PingMag about the amazing vertical green walls and gardens by Nouvel collaborator, Patrick Blanc, a French botanist. Blanc worked with Nouvel on the vertical gardens of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, however, the main landscape design is by Gilles Clément. Whilst these “living walls” are intriguing, there is some discussion about their environmental viability and general maintenance. although it’s hard to argue against Blanc’s objective; “The city needs urban nature. There are masses of places one can create greenery without needing to take up large spaces.”[1] Takes me back to university and The Granite Garden published in almost a quarter of a century ago.

A photo essay on the landscape of the Quai Branly museum is available here.

The Photographer : Thomas Mayer
A huge gallery of photographs from an archive spanning 35 years by professional German photographer, Thomas Mayer. His archive is well worth visiting as there are over 10,000 architectural photos alone, including buildings by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, Richard Meier and of course, Nouvel.

Torre Agbar, Barcelona

Mayer’s Torre Agbar set shows the building rising from the gritty urban surrounds of Barcelona like a umm… well, let’s just say looks a bit suspect. Nouvel’s description of the Torre Agbar (aka. Agbar Group tower) is a little more poetic; “a distant echo of old Catalan obsessions, carried on the winds that blow in from Montserrat” but, really, it must be a homage to his love of Cuban cigars.

Also check out the official Torre Agbar site which has a wealth of information – all embedded in Flash unfortunately (gee it does horrible things to text legibility).


Martha Schwartz, Scale, Typologies & Trees

Mid-Week Linkage No.1

Here’s the first of (hopefully) a regular mid-week selection of interesting articles or websites. Rather than resort to an automatic daily link posting via del.icio.us, I thought I’d try a tailored approach. Anyway, here’s a start…

  • Martha Schwartz: Landscapes of Awareness | An interview where Martha discusses the “bland landscape”, gender issues in the design field and sustainability. That, and she still looks pretty cool (for a landscape architect).
  • Universcale | In the spirit of Charles & Ray Eames famous Powers of 10, Nikon have created a Flash version which indicates the relative scale of objects from the microscopic to the impossibly large (universe). Click on an object and it automatically compares something smaller and bigger – very cool. Check it out but make sure you turn off the crappy background music.

  • Architype Review | Recent projects by Holl, Viñoly, Denari and Will Bruder, categorised by architectural typology such as schools, houses, university etc. Nice clean layout with photos (perhaps too small, even when clicked), a description and credits. Each project is selected by editorial review yet the descriptions are supplied by the architects. Strangely there’s no RSS feed, only a newsletter by email?!
  • Branch Banking: How much a street tree is really worth? | The results of a New York street tree survey that establishes the value (in $) of street trees based on species, age, size, and location. Not that unusual so far. What is a little different, is that the annual energy savings were also calculated along with the value a street tree adds to your property (0.88%, apparently). Interestingly, in the examples the value of a street tree to the home owner is between 16 to 71 times that to the city.

Any suggestions for future mid-week linkage? Post a comment below or contact me by email.