We had a few sunny days during our third week in Paris and on one of these days my wife and I and our Belgian friends George and Jacqueline who came down from their home in Nivelles to visit us decided to take a walk eastward along the Blvd St Germain until we reached the Seine in the 5th arrondissement opposite Ile Saint-Louis. And there on the corner of Rue des Fossés Saint Bernard we found a strange building that houses the Arab World Institute.
The famed architect Jean Nouvel designed the AWI building in 1981 and it was completed in 1987. The north facade of the building gently curves along with the river but the stark rectangular south facade presents ten floors of glass that cover stainless steel panels of an Arabic design that are repeated over and over again. Electronic sensors control the apertures in these panels to open or close in order to allow so much sun light into the building. In 1989 Nouvel won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for his design of this building and in 1987 the building received the Équerre d’Argent for being the best building in France.
The Arab World Institute was created to spread information regarding the 18 countries that make up the Arab union to France and the western world. The building contains a restaurant, a library, an auditorium and a museum as well as offices. The current museum exhibit which lasts until mid-August is on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Visitors are welcome to take a glass elevator to the top of the building to either enter the terrace restaurant or to just admire the view of Notre Dame and Ile Saint-Louis across the river. We did just that and then examined the south side panels a little more closely before taking the elevator back down.
This last photo of one of the stainless steel panels is about 90% monochrome. So it didn’t take much effort ( I had to move two sliders in Lightroom all the way to the left!) to produce an all-monochrome version for next week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge that Laura Macky and Leanne Cole run on Leanne’s website.