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Architecture of the Arab World Institute, Paris

The Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe) in Paris was founded in 1980 between 18 Arab countries and France. 

The Architecture-Studio, and Jean Nouvel, won the 1981 design competition to build the AWI with joint funds from the Arab League and the French government. The AWI museum was constructed from 1981-1987 under the French Presidency of Francois Mitterand, as part of his urban development series called ‘The Grand Projects.’ It has a museum, art gallery, library, auditorium, restaurant, office, and meeting rooms.

The river Seine side of the building contrast is curved, and the southwest façade is a rectangular glass-clad wall. Visible behind the glass wall, a metallic screen unfolds with moving geometric motifs. The motifs are 240 photo-sensitive motor-controlled apertures, or shutters, which automatically open and close to control the amount of light and heat entering the building. The mechanism creates interior spaces with filtered light, which was inspired by Islamic architecture. 

The innovative use of technology and success of the building design won the 1989 Aga Khan Award for Architectural Excellence. 

MARTINA NICOLLSis an international aid and development consultant, and the authorof:- Similar But Different in the Animal Kingdom(2017), The Shortness of Life: A Mongolian Lament (2015), Liberia’s Deadest Ends (2012), Bardot’s Comet (2011), Kashmir on a Knife-Edge (2010) and The Sudan Curse (2009).


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