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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jean Nouvel's Desert Rose Museum

(click to enlarge)

This sublime (and virtual) building was pictured across the top of the New York Times Arts section yesterday, accompanied by an article announcing the unveiling of French architect Jean Nouvel's new design for the National Museum of Qatar.  I knew without reading beyond the title what had inspired him, not because of any special artistic insight, but because I'm a geologist by training.  The building evokes the form of desert gypsum crystals, better known as sand roses or desert roses, which typically are a beige-pinkish color, the same color of the concrete the architects are planning to use.

(photos from Jean Nouvel ateliers)

From the NYTimes:  "Inspired by sand roses, the tiny formations that crystallize just below the desert’s surface, the building’s dozens of disclike forms, intersecting at odd angles and piling up unevenly atop one another, celebrate a delicate beauty in the desert landscape that is invisible to those who have not spent time there. The lightness with which these forms rest on the land, meanwhile, conjures the ethereality of desert life."  They go on to call this the "French architect’s most overtly poetic act of cultural synthesis yet."

I couldn't agree more, it is poetic.  What the NYTimes didn't show was a picture of gypsum crystals, which I think would have given readers a much better sense of how truly evocative this design is.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some I downloaded from the web.....