I find new architectural interventions in classic architecture a very interesting subject of study, these all try to achieve both elegance and craziness in its design. And it turns out that the recently finished new gallery os Islamic Art of the Louvre in Paris is no different to them all.
In these cases modernity can be achieved modest and discretely, like the new CCCB theater (Martinez Lapeña & Torres arquitectos) in Barcelona or even the CCCB
itself, designes by Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana; or it can be achieved by creating totally different new forms, as Mario Bellini
and Rudy Riccioti
decided to do with this new museum in a museum.
The new building is placed in the Visconti Courtyard and its, basically, a two floor excavation covered by a gold computer-generated topography, being this, obviously, the most powerful gesture of the building; of course that the fact that it is enclosed in a courtyard makes the roof facade the most important, by far. More than any of the others.
Despite that the architects may say that they think of it as a “Dragonfly Wing”, since it is a Islamic Art museum, I have to confess I can´t help myself of thinking about those golden threads islamic women wear in their clothing; as well as the dunes of the desert. The way shadows create the landscape. It is like if they had been able to construct a portion of desert in Paris.
Furthermore I find curious that the same government that banned wearing a full-face veil in 2011, has now invested so much money in the development of this project. May these be a way of giving back part of what they previously took them away? Can art heal wounds made by the powerful men? Or is it just that the authorities are trying to improve their relations with the arabian governors since they have asked Jean Nouvel to design a Louvre for Dubai to open in 2015?
However, the interior design has little to do with islamic culture, despite the fact that it is their art what is there being exhibited. The space has been thought to be as transparent as possible by making the outer and inner glass box seem as inexistent as possible. In constract the lower core, of black painted walls, has a totally different effect on the visitor. Above it is an open spacce, whereas below it is more of a non interrupted cave.
The other aspect Bellini and Riccioti have focused in is the a dynamic movement, and, as opposed to the current exhibit in the Caixaforum, Before the Deluge, that has a rigorous orthogonal display; this exhibit slightly rotates the displays to encourage the visitors circulation.
Personally, I can not wait to visit it when I get back to Europe further this year. I want to experience first hand how this elegant roof fits in this tight classic courtyard in opposition to the nice and natural pyramid of I. M. Pei. For now though, I still have a lot of other visits planned in the USA.