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example, of Michel Andrault and Pierre Parat's Agence Havas. in Neuilly-sur-Seine (1971-73). They can be traced back to the prototypes of Jean Prouvé, in particular to his design (or the Maison du Peuple of 1939 in Clichy. with its industrial skin of metal, lightweight and thin, pierced with railway carriage-type windows, and certainly to Pierre Chareau's Maison de Verre (1928-32). As in these antecedents. Nouvel has succeeded in Infusing into the industrial products he has used a sense of intention and intelligence, through, for instance, the 'humanization' of the mass-produced details, and he has succeeded in incorporating into them a fictionalized, narrative quality which renders the industrial fabric pleasurable. The building thus has the surface harshness of a factory, but not its aggressiveness. while making the best of its disadvantaged context.

French architectural critics and others have praised Nouvel for adopting a height that fits in with the surrounding buildings, thus allowing the overall configuration of the complex to be consistent with the city's skyline. As in the case of the Pompidou Centre (pp. 84-89). the institut's respect for its surroundings has made the project felicitous. The way in which the building encloses the maximum number of activities in extraordinarily compact forms concentrated along the riverside - thus leaving space for the creation of a generous public square on the south side of the building where it is protected from the flow of traffic, a fragment of urbanity in the midst of an anomic and atopic part of the city - has also been highly praised. The open-air café on the top floor, overlooking the Seine - another precedent set by the Pompidou Centre, which should be imitated more often - also establishes contact with the river, with the lie St-Louis. the Quai Henri IV. in fact, with the entire Paris skyline, while maintaining a comfortable distance from the noise and pollution of the traffic below.

The institute, which is devoted to Arab studies, contains a library of 35.000 books, an auditorium with 352 seats, reading rooms, a museum and audio-visual facilities. The generally hard, northern', industrial aesthetic employed makes a contrasting and ingenious use of appropriate references to Arabic culture. In the library, a gently sloping spiral staircase, based on the minaret of Samara in Iraq, rises a full 32 metres in the air. Lined with reference books, it provides a view of the outside through a glass wall on the west side, oriented towards the lie St-Louis. The building's main arabisant feature is the glass-and-aluminium panels, more than 240 in number, which include 27.000 light-sensitive apertures on the side facing the open square. These work like the shutters of a camera, adapting to the shifts in light conditions, so that its intensity remains constant. The apertures cast onto the interior geometrical sha dows shaped like masharabieh, the traditional sculpted wooden screens. Each mobile shutter panel Is sandwiched between double-glazed windows on the outside and single ones on the inside. The latter can be opened for easy access to the screen to facilitate repairs or cleaning. Of the building's cost. 60 per cent was borne by the French and 40 per cent by the Arab States - with the exception of Egypt. Expenditure was high; each shutter element, for example, cost 45.000 francs (in 1985) excluding the glass and the aluminium frame, as the Wall Street Journal noted at the time.

The building's friendly interior is no less felicitous than its exterior. It is broken down into two volumes, one square and one wedge-shaped. These are separated by a slit which allows vehicular access to the second floor and acts as the entrance to a patio whose facade is of white marble tiles from Thasos. held in aluminium frames. The white marble is so finely hewn that it is translucent, and acts as a filter through which light enters the building. The main exhibition hall is in the wedge-shaped part of the building and is primarily made of glass windows which are inscribed with a trompe I'oeil silkscreen print by P.M. Jacquot. This reproduces a mirror image of the view of trees and houses on the lie St-Louis across the Seine, directly opposite the building.

Jean Nouvel's interest in the cinema is reflected in the Institut's architecture, not so much in Its capacity to serve as a backdrop for movies, but in its evocation of the intrigue of the silver screen. It is a building which, in the words of Roland Barthes. appears 'not as [anj illusion, but as fiction'.

(Left) Extorior vlow of tho sunscreen facade

(Opposite) Corner of tho building with the spiral library towor and staircase ramp

Jean Nouvel et Associés NEMAUSUS

In contrast to Jean Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe (pp. 174-77). which was one of the most expensive buildings per square metre in recent memory, his Némausus social housing project, directly commissioned by the socialist mayor of Nîmes, was cheap to build because of its use of inexpensive industrial materials. As a result, the tenants gained approximately 30 per cent more space. As an additional benefit, the 114 apartments, contained in the two almost identical buildings that make up the project, were provided with features rarely available even in the private housing sector: double orientation, cross ventilation, sunny balconies 2 metres wide. 15 metre square bathrooms with large windows, and double-

height living rooms 5 metres high. Furthermore. it provided an unusually rich selection of 17 different apartment types, either simplex, duplex or triplex.

As the French architectural critic Lionel Duroy notes, the materials used include corrugated aluminium sheeting for the exterior and staircases, together with perforated and galvanized aluminium for the footbridges that provide inner links of the type used in the engine rooms of freighters. Office-type glazed partitions are used to enclose rooms and bathrooms: wardrobes, cupboards and plate metal shelves are all fitted onto a perforated framework. The flooring is simple grey plastic, the rough concrete walls and ceilings bare concrete. The sole concession to luxury is the prototype accordion garage doors made by the German firm Hormann that make up the entire facade of the apartments on the south sxk and permit maximum access to the balconies, to make the most of one of the finest climates France has to offer.

There are precedents for the overt imitât«* of industrial buildings in housing. Proutfs housing in Meudon as well as his own house are two notable examples in France. The Eames' house in Pacific Palisades. Caiiforrw. with its steel decking, walls, joists and stet framed windows bought from a catalogue. « another. A most Influential precedent of course, is Buckminster Fuller's Dymautf ijflgfiïll


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