3 Great Architects and Their Famous Brise Soleils

A brise soleil is a permanent sun shade. While many designs have been executed only a few have revolutionized the concept. Amongst those great architects to design brise soleils are:

1. Le Corbustier

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris was a Swiss-French artist and a pioneer of modern architecture. In addition to designing high-end furniture and urban living plans to better accommodate the poor population of crowded cities, Le Corbustier conceptualised the “five points of architecture”. First the bulk of the structure is lifted off the ground, and supported by reinforced concrete stilts called pilotis. The support of the pilotis allows for a free façade and an open floor plan which can be designed without concern for walls. Le Corbustier also partnered with Iannis Xekanis to build the Sainte Marie de la Tourette, a French convent. The building has two levels and is crowned by several loggias that act as brise soleils, one for each acoustically-isolated monk’s cell.

2. Santiago Calatrava Valls

Calatrava is an internationally recognised and award-winning Valencian Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer. One of his most famous designs is the concrete Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was his first project in the US and the very thing to put the museum on the international art map. The structure contains a moveable, wing like brise-soleil which opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during rough weather. The pavilion houses a gallery for temporary exhibits, the museum’s store, and its restaurant, Café Calatrava.

3. Jean Nouvel

Nouvel is a French architect who was commissioned to develop the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. The Institute was built after eighteen Arab countries decided together with France, that they wanted an institute where research about Arab culture could be conducted and the information disseminated. Above the front windows, a metallic screen unfolds with moving geometric motifs. The motifs are actually 240 motor-controlled chambers, which open and close every hour. They act as a brise soleil to control the light entering the building. The system creates interior spaces with filtered light- an effect that is often used in Islamic architecture as a climate coping strategy. The design of the Institut du Monde Arab has since become a cultural highlight of Paris and led Nouvel to architectural fame. Winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the building houses a museum, library, auditorium, and restaurant, as well as several offices.

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