Institut du Monde Arabe

1981 / 1987

Arab World Institute

Public facilities / Culture / Interior design

Exhibition venue dedicated to Arab culture: 350-seat auditorium, exhibition galleries, library and media library.

In dialectical terms, the Arab World Institute headquarters in Paris refers to several contextual aspects: traditional and modern neighbourhoods, Arab culture and Western culture, modernity and history, inside spaces and outside areas. Its symbolic approach and modernity are based on a present-day interpretation of the history of both civilisations. The site is situated at the junction of two urban areas, a traditional (continuous) one and a modern (discontinuous) one. The building creates a bond between these two types of urban planning. The Northern facade, facing historical Paris, covers up the museum and expresses the relationship between exhibits and the city, transposed by a silkscreen design on the facade. The Southern facade covers the library and uses the traditional patterns of artistic Arab geometry. A variable grid based on the diaphragm principle offers solar protection to interior spaces. Photoelectric cells measure the amount of sunlight, and the diaphragms open and close depending on exterior light conditions. This project received the «Equerre d’Argent» prize in 1988 and an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.


Client: Arab World Institute
Architect: AS.Architecture-Studio, J.Nouvel, G.Lezenes, P.Soria
Engineering: SETEC Bâtiment
Assignment: full design
Area: 27,000 sqm
Competition: 1981
Completion: 1987

Paris, France

Arab World Institute

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