Precious Things well protected – and presented with Awareness

Precious Things well protected – and presented with Awareness

Museum of non-European art Quai Branly

The Musée Quai Branly in Paris presents non-European art inside a building ensemble that defines European architecture in an utterly new way.


The task of presenting art from Oceania, Asia, America, and Africa according to their context of origin with dignity and in a comprehensible way is a demanding one. Spread across an overall floor area of 40,660 m² is an administration department, work areas, a movie theater, restaurants, and a book store. By deploying 3,500 tons of steel as a vaulted metal structure with an expansion joint towards the auxiliary buildings requires an extra portion of creativity. The problematic location near the river Seine in Paris has a danger of flooding, therefore environment protection aspects need to be taken into account. Jean Nouvel has solved this challenge by creating a four-part ensemble with each part displaying an architecture of its own. The long main building has 30 projecting boxes of various sizes for intimate exhibition niches. The Branly building at the North-western side has a glass façade and vertical garden.  The university building is an intermediate building of glass and metal. Finally, the Auvent complex of stone and glass, acts as the connection to the surrounding buildings.

Safe and Sustainable from the Very Beginning

The greatest threat, the Seine, is neutralized by a 750 meter long and 20 to 30 meter deep concrete ring around the building complex built into the ground. These safety measures are completed by water absorbing soils and countless local plants spread across the 17,500 m² garden. 26 stilts, carrying the long organic main building at a height of ten meters, are another practical protection and visual dissolve.  In concert with the nine meter high, diamond-shaped glass façade on the Northern side, which balances the structure’s heaviness. Transparent pedestrian bridges also make the building appear lighter and invite the visitor to discover art inside the four buildings along new paths – matching the otherness of the displayed exhibits. Be it inside the glass tower of the musical instruments, in the private niches of the boxes held in earthen colors and protruding to a maximum of 15 meters out of the Northern side, or on the 180 meter sine curved pedestrian bridge leading from the entrance area to the actual exhibition areas – the building keeps opening up surprising and appealing insights and perspectives.

Beauty and Purpose, Perfectly Combined

Over 70 per cent of the rooms of Quai Branly meet HEQ (High Environmental Quality) criteria. HEQ was defined in 1992 for the first time during the world climate summit maintains guidelines for sustainable building. This means waste water treatment, environmentally-friendly paint, plenty of glass for lowering energy requirements for lights, and a low-maintenance façade, 99 per cent coated and thus filtering glass for material immanent climate control (for rarely making use of the air conditioning system) etc. In 2006, Jean Nouvel has created a place making non-European art accessible to people with a Western orientation. Artists are offered a place where they can be understood and appreciated from out of their origin.

more projects on the topic “vegetated facades“…


Project details


Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris, France


Completion 2006


GFA 40,660 m²


Museum Quai Branly (France, with the city of Paris as a sponsor of the national museum for non-European art)


You need to login or register to post comments.
This comment will automatically be synchronized on social networks.
admin's picture
admin 13. August 2011 - 22:05

splendid work! :)

admin's picture
admin 13. August 2011 - 22:07


admin's picture
admin 13. August 2011 - 23:18

I was there. Nice building and a magnificent artcollection!

admin's picture
admin 14. August 2011 - 0:29

that is one fugly 1st year student project

admin's picture
admin 14. August 2011 - 1:23


admin's picture
admin 14. August 2011 - 6:41

jean nouvel!

admin's picture
admin 16. August 2011 - 7:42

lokk like a train

admin's picture
admin 20. March 2012 - 16:16


admin's picture
admin 21. March 2012 - 0:16

Acho esse edifício incrível, essas cores são muito bonitas.