Jean Nouvel Wins A Big Prize

In celebration of the big prize (actually the 2008 Pritzker Prize) being recently awarded to the irrepressible Jean Nouvel, here’s a selection of projects from the amazing portfolio of Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

(Click-through to reveal high resolution versions)

The New York Times also has a slideshow with some excellent photos. Or, if you’re looking for some critical commentary (there isn’t much) on why the Pritzker Prize shouldn’t be awarded to an individual try “Architecture Is a Team Sport” in Slate by Witold Rybczynski.

Related Article: 3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel

Happy 1st Birthday, Arkhitekton!

Exactly one year ago today, I sat down and wrote my first “proper” article (oddly not on the subject of architecture) for Arkhitekton. Since then, the posts have not necessary arrived thick and fast – intermittent would be an apt description – but they have all been well considered and, hopefully, worth reading.

Apart from the feeling that after 10 years of rampant Internet consumption it was time to give something back, the main reason to write here was actually to accrue Continuing Professional Development (CPD, aka Continuing Education in the US) points as part of my requirement as a registered architect.

Anyway, here are some highlights of the past 12 months at Arkhitekton:

  • The most popular post was 3 Degrees of Jean Nouvel.
    Which was “a thinly-veiled attempt at a thematic post set out in three parts; The Architect, The Botanist and The Photographer.” and proved to be a successful attempt. Now Nouvel has (deservedly) won the prestigious 2008 Pritzker Prize, I have another excuse to run a few photos from his portfolio.
  • The least popular post was Holiday Reading (Part 2): Michael Arad.
    Although the link was to an absolutely fascinating article about Michael Arad’s struggle with his design for the World Trade Centre memorial, it seems that either (a) everyone’s read it already, or (b) everyone’s over 9/11 architecture sagas.
  • The most valuable linkage was with John Hill’s Archidose. Always something of interest there, definitely worth visiting and, unlike Arkhitekton, he maintains a regular publishing schedule.
  • Over 5,000 unique visitors dropped by in the past year. Not bad for a new architecture blog. Thanks for visiting… and reading! Subscribe to the RSS feed. That way you’ll never miss anything – no matter how slack I am at posting something new.

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).