French architect Jean Nouvel was one of the guests at Imagina – the 3D technology’s European trade fair, held in Montecarlo.
Nouvel, who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, has worked on projects around the world including the Arab World Institute in Paris and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
He spoke to euronews about the impact technology has on architecture.
Jean Nouvel: “Computers have completely changed an architect’s work, now you can simulate everything, you can draw a lot more quickly, you can break down a building into seperate pieces. You can check each combination, there are extraordinary new possibilities regarding both conception and realisation.”
Claudio Rocco, euronews: “You have said that images are lies. With new technology, are they a little more truthful?”
Jean Nouvel: “With new technology you can lie just as well, perhaps even a little better, that’s the ethical problem. But it’s true that the lie has always been there. I am referring to promotions, with the wide angle, rooms that appear three times as big in the prospectus, luxury cars at the front of the shot, pin-ups, trees, whatever you want, in fact what you no longer see is the architeture, you just see these symbols of luxury, which are for sale at the same time.
“This lie has always existed but with a computer if you have ethics you can represent things in a very accurate fashion, so it would be good to effectively establish a number of rules, a sort of ethical code which would allow you to be sure that what you’re seeing is true.”
Claudio Rocco, euronews: “Do you think that some of your pieces could not have been achieved without a computer?”
Jean Nouvel: “I’m absolutely sure of that. There are ideas that I could not have had because the computer opens the mind. I work with light a lot, for example, and there are some things that I could never have imagined without that. And then there are things that I absolutely could not have achieved. For example, I worked on the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, on the big dome, which is a sort of shaft of light which crosses two vaults which in turn are pierced to allow the light to disappear and then reappear etc.
“If you’d wanted to do it a dozen years ago the simulation and work would have taken two or three centuries, and that’s too long for me. But now, it’s possible.”
Claudio Rocco, euronews: “Regarding the link with the past. In some of your structures, I am thinking for example, of the Opera House in Lyon, you have intergrated the old structure within the new. What is the architect’s relationship with the past? How can the new be intergrated with the old?”
Jean Nouvel: “I think we must always make use of what came before. What is missing most often in contemporary architecture is the link with history and with geography. I say that you must always take what came before into account and reuse it as often as possible. As so in history lots of masterpieces are created over centuries.”
Claudio Rocco, euronews:
“Do you think that today’s cities will exist in 50 or 100 years. How do you see the city of the future?”
Jean Nouvel: “The future is not new cities, cities are always changing. What’s important now is what are the factors of change. In the 20th century we accumulated a lot of new districts, a lot of new buildings, very quickly which were not linked together, they were just tagged on.
“Cities are very clogged so it is necessary that cities change within themselves, and it’s that way of moving which will give them a complexity, I hope, that will give them more humanity, more depth. So the future is already 50 per cent there for cities.
“One of the most extraordinary things in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is that we see clearly that the future was always in conflict or in competition with the existing material, with the buildings of the previous century. It is this relationship between the future and the past which created the city.”