“Doing architecture is listening.” Some of the greatest architects of our time – from Peter Zumthor to Jean Nouvel and Diébédo Francis Kéré – here share their inspirational thoughts on what it is that makes global architecture work.
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor (b. 1943) always has a certain “feeling for the space”, which enables him to react as an architect. This he also attributes to having background knowledge of the place, which is easier in our modern, global world. The real challenge is to understand the local people and their subtext.
“I’m a contextual architect, but for me the context isn’t only the site.” French architect Jean Nouvel (b. 1945) considers architecture to be part of a wider historical and cultural context. A building, he feels, always has roots, and a building can’t simply be put anywhere and must always develop according to its context.
Danish architect Louis Becker (b. 1962), who is a Principal Partner at Henning Larsen Architects, feels that the globalization of architecture enables architects to both influence – and be influenced: “The nice thing about a Coca Cola is it’s the same thing all over the world… if you did that in architecture, it would be a disaster.”
“Having the opportunity to see both worlds – or even many worlds – is an incredible source of inspiration,” says Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi (b. 1976), who is inspired by travelling the world and aspires to create projects that “seem like they belong there, and at the same time look like they came out of nowhere.”
Norwegian architect Kjetil Trædal Thorsen (b. 1958), founding partner of Snøhetta, feels that there is a great strength in coming from the outside as an architect, as it enables you to “re-search, re-interpret, re-translate.” Moreover, co-operation is key, which also means involving the locals and using their local material – in this sense, architecture builds bridges.
Architecture is a process made in collaboration with the local people, who should ultimately consider the structure their own, according to Burkina Faso architect Diébédo Francis Kéré (b. 1965): “Architecture starts with people.” In continuation of this, Kéré uses old, local materials to create something new and appealing.
English architect Norman Foster (b. 1935) feels that it is important to use architecture as a tool to address some of the bigger social issues – such as sanitation, water and power – while still respecting the urban structure. The true task is to transform e.g. settlements rather than simply tear them down.
The interviews can be watched in full length at http://channel.louisiana.dk/topics/architecture
All interviews by Marc-Christoph Wagner, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016
Meet the award winning French architect Jean Nouvel, in this interview about his relationship to the Arab world. The architect is supposed to listen, Nouvel states, instead of imposing his own values and sensitivities on another place.
In the Arab world there is a battle about identity and modernity going on. Because the development is so fast, you get a lot of misplaced architecture, without local color or identity, Jean Nouvel explains. For him it is important that the architecture reflects Arab identity and religion. Arab architecture is often connected to Islamic architecture, which has a special relationship with geometry, abstractions, decorations, light and water.
Jean Nouvel is known for his contextual approach to architecture, opposing the standard or pre-fabricated buildings being placed all around the world: "My job is to try and understand where the architecture will be situated, how it will be rooted, and what sense it will make where it is." To Jean Nouvel it is important that the same building could not be located in another place. A building takes part in history, Jean Nouvel explains: "A building always has links, roots. I'm a contextual architect, but for me the context isn't only the site. It's above all a wider historical context -- a cultural context." Nouvel also talks about how he believes architecture builds bridges between societies.
Jean Nouvel (b.1945) studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was a founding member of Mars 1976 and Syndicat de l'Architecture. He has obtained a number of prestigious distinctions over the course of his career, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, awarded for the Institut du Monde Arabe which Nouvel talks about in the beginnig of this interview. In 2008 Nouvel was awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honor. A number of museums and architectural centers have presented retrospectives of his work.
Jean Nouvel was interviewed at his studio in Paris by Marc-Christoph Wagner, Dec. 2013
Filmed by Germain Ferey
Edited by Martin Kogi
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014
Supported by Nordea-fonden
Friday, November 21, 2014
Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall
Architecture and Representation: the Arab City
Ashraf Abdallah, Senan Abdelqader, Nadia Abu-El-Haj, Mohammad al-Asad, Suad Amiry, George Arbid, Mohamed Elshahed, Yasser Elsheshtawy, Rania Ghosn, Saba Innab, Ziad Jamaleddine, Ahmed Kanna, Bernard Khoury, Laura Kurgan, Adrian Lahoud, Ali Mangera, Reinhold Martin, Magda Mostafa, Nicolai Ouroussoff, Nasser Rabbat, Hashim Sarkis, Felicity Scott, Hala Warde, Enrique Walker, Mark Wasiuta, Eyal Weizman, Mabel Wilson, and Gwendolyn Wright
Opening Remarks by Lila Abu-Lughod and Safwan Masri
Keynote by Timothy Mitchell
Organized by Dean Amale Andraos and Nora Akawi Studio-X Amman
with Columbia Global Centers | Middle East, Middle East Institute, and Studio-X Istanbul
with supporting partners Qatar Foundation and Aramex
Hashim Sarkis, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT
Ali Mangera, Principal, MYAA Architects
Hala Warde, Partner, Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Nicolai Ouroussoff, Former Architecture Critic, New York Times, and Pulitzer Prize Nominee for Criticism
Mabel Wilson, Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor, and Co-Director of Global Africa Lab, Columbia University GSAPP