Arab World Institute – Paris, France
Innovation: Active Shading
Location: Paris, France
By: Jean Nouvel
Architects: Jean Nouvel, Gilbert Leze, Pierre Soria & Architecture-Studio
Engineering: SETEC Bâtiment
In an agreement between eighteen Arab countries and the French government, the Arab World Institute was created as an exhibition of the Arab world’s cultural and spiritual values and to provide a space for further research . The building itself is a sharing of culture with the north façade reflecting the Parisian blocks across the Siene River, and the south façade covered in the motorized hexagonal lenses. Their pattern and light properties are a reference to mashrabiya, a lattice-work motif found in Arabian architecture that provides shaded light and privacy with a view .
Consisting of 30,000 diaphragms on 1600 elements resting on a stainless-steel, aluminum and glass framework, the geometric array is a compilation of high-tech photosensitive mechanical devices. Using photo-voltaic cells, the light levels and transparency can be adjusted in a fashion similar to a camera lens by a central computer system to allow 10-30% of light in . Although designed in an exploration of light, reflections, contours and shadows, this concept can be applied to solar shading in efforts to reduce cooling loads.