The Use of Vegetation as Expression of a Happy Memory in Jean Nouvel’s Recent Projects

  • Smaranda Maria Todoran
Part of the Water Science and Technology Library book series (WSTL, volume 84)


The abundance of studies on the memory of architecture in recent years as well as a growing preoccupation for ecological approaches represent the premises of the present study. In particular, French architect Jean Nouvel’s work of the last two decades, the two issues intermingle in an apparent paradox. On one hand, his preoccupation for context as a major condition for the creative process breaks from the classical tradition of visual and historical references, and in general, from any form of art history and aesthetics. The use of vegetation appears as a natural solution. On the other hand, the temporal dimension, intrinsic to a memory value attributed to the idea of monument, operates profoundly in the possibility of this superposition of context and vegetation. The paper tries to establish a common ground of temporality between the two which may become relevant for a new contemporary understanding of the memory of architecture and to determine its relation with the past. This has been done following his theoretical discourse as well as his architectural projects, also comparing the grounds of his thesis with reflections on the concept of context expressed by Frampton, Rossi, Eisenman, and Sola Morales. Paul Ricouer’s work on memory fundaments the idea of a happy memory, unchallenged by the burden of the past, perceived as an anteriority that has been, rather than one that no longer is. The study wishes to reveal a form of understanding memory, specific to weak architecture and Deconstructivism, based on the idea of becoming and integrating forgetting as an acceptance of the fragile condition of city, architecture, and vegetation alike.


Memory French contemporary architecture Ephemeral Vegetation Context Weak architecture 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and UrbanismTechnical University of Cluj-NapocaCluj-NapocaRomania

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