The Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel says all his fondest childhood reminiscences revolve round the water. They embrace his household’s annual summer time holidays to the Côte d’Azur, the place he spent his days swimming in the sea, and his kayaking excursions down the Dordogne River, close to Sarlat, the metropolis in southwest France the place he grew up.
Today, greater than 60 years later, water is an integral factor in lots of of Mr. Nouvel’s designs. Among them are Monad Terrace, a 59-residence bay-front condominium mission in Miami Beach that options a honeycomb glass facade, a sequence of reflecting swimming pools and a lagoon; and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a dome-shaped constructing that appears like an island in the center of the water. Much of his work — akin to the Culture and Convention Center in Lucerne, Switzerland, and La Marseillaise, a skyscraper in the French port metropolis of Marseille — is in waterfront places.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Mr. Nouvel, opened in 2017.Credit…Katarina Premfors for The New York Times
Born in Fumel, in southwest France, Mr. Nouvel, 75, studied his craft at the Fine Arts School of Bordeaux and the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. His Paris-based design agency, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, has near 150 workers. The firm has gained quite a few awards for structure and design and labored on upward of 100 initiatives, starting from museums, live performance halls and theaters to residential and workplace buildings, in addition to non-public houses.
Mr. Nouvel divides his time between Paris and St.-Paul de Vence, a medieval hilltop village in the south of France that provides views of the Mediterranean Sea and attracts vacationers to its picturesque setting and artwork galleries.
Speaking by an interpreter, he lately mentioned his structure. These are edited excerpts from the dialog.
Why is water so distinguished in your works? What is it about water that draws you?
To me, structure is an artwork — it’s not about constructing buildings. My aim is to create feelings by my artwork, and I imagine that water has the magic attribute of creating so many feelings and goals. My childhood, the place I spent a lot pleased time round the water, can be a massive think about why I’m drawn to it and wish it to play a position in my skilled life.
The feelings water creates are totally different, relying on the physique of water — it may very well be a sea, river or port.
They’re all so totally different, relying on the vacation spot, which additionally elements into my designs. When I’m in the Côte d’Azur, for instance, the mountains body the rocky sea, and I really feel full freedom.
The Dordogne, in distinction, is totally blanketed in inexperienced. Being right here is about following the sluggish stream underneath the branches of the bushes. It’s like poetry.
Given that the vacation spot performs into your designs, are you able to share how Miami Beach influenced your imaginative and prescient for Monad Terrace?
Miami Beach is all about the seashore.
Over the years, I’ve been to Miami many occasions for [the art fair] Art Basel and different events, and hung out at the seashore, however Monad Terrace is on the bay. As a outcome, my mission was in response to a perspective of Miami that’s not typical. I used reflecting swimming pools and a lagoon to create the sensation that the constructing is completely immersed in the water. If you’re standing inside your condo, you’ll be able to look down at the water and see its variations with the gentle and transferring of the bushes, and really feel like they’re coming into your private home and are a half of it.
This expertise of immersion is central to many of my designs, together with Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, in Brooklyn, which is subsequent to the East River and has a clear facade. When the carousel strikes, the gentle from the exterior displays towards the facades and provides the feeling that the horses are dancing on the water.
Jane’s Carousel, a Nouvel design, subsequent to the East River in Brooklyn.Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
The National Museum of Qatar, a constructing consisting of curved discs set at totally different angles, is one of your distinguished designs in recent times. Tell us about your use of water in the mission.
This design is an encounter between the desert and the sea, which Qatar, as a vacation spot, very a lot is.
I used to be impressed by the desert rose, a flower that blooms in the desert there and is a image of the nation. The constructing is my model of the rose, and the totally different curves are supposed to resemble blades. It has a lengthy reflecting pool in entrance of it and is close to the Persian Gulf.
You get a clear view of the museum from the water, and once you’re inside, searching at each the pool and the sea, you get the sensation of floating above the water.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, one other of your main museum initiatives, is in a vacation spot that’s just like Qatar in phrases of having each desert and sea. How is that this design totally different out of your work in Qatar?
Here, I created my model of a cupola, which is attribute of Arabic structure. The constructing seems like an island floating in the center of the sea and is a massive dome with a perforated roof, the place the solar filters by.
Looking at it, it’s onerous to inform you could get there by land. It’s nearly a metaphysical construction.
What are some of your coming initiatives the place water is a central theme?
The Opera of Shenzhen, in Shenzhen, China, which is in entrance of Hong Kong and the estuary of the Pearl River. The design is supposed to be an encounter of the music and the sea and evoke a musical composition with its silhouette of waves arriving on the coast.
If you needed to decide a favourite waterfront vacation spot, what would it not be?
I like anyplace the place I can swim in the sea and nonetheless go to the Côte d’Azur. St.-Paul de Vence, the place I stay, can be pricey to me as a result of I can see the Mediterranean from my house. And I ceaselessly go to Cadaques, a lovely city in Spain’s Costa Brava. Being there jogs my memory of my youth.