The CHANEL Museum

Zaha Hadid Architects

The form of the Chanel Pavilion is a celebration of the iconic work of Chanel, unmistakeable for its smooth layering of exquisite details that together create an elegant, cohesive whole. The resulting structure is very much tied to that original inspiration—elegant, functional, and versatile both in its overall structure and detail.
The architectural structure of the Pavilion is a series of continuous arch-shaped elements, with a courtyard in its central space. The glazed ceiling adjusts to allow for control of the interior temperature in response to the particular climate conditions of each venue city.

Natural light descending from seven elements on the ceiling, meets artificial light pushed up from gap between the walls and raised floor to emphasize the “arched” structure, and assists in the creation of a new artificial landscape for art installations. Six of these elements are roof lights for artworks; another large opening dramatically floods the entrance in daylight to blur the relationship between interior and exterior. In addition to the lighting and colour effects, the spatial rhythm created by the seams of each segment gives strong perspective views throughout the interior.

The size of the Pavilion will be 29m x 45m, a total of 700sqm. The overall height is 6m, with the floor raised 1.00m above the existing ground surface. In light of the extensive shipping between cities, each structural segment will be a maximum of 2,25m wide.
The 65sqm central courtyard has large transparent openings to the sky above and is designed to host events as well as provide an area for reflection after visiting the exhibition. The courtyard serves as an intermediate space between the exhibition and a public area of the Pavilion. A 25sqm cloakroom is also provided.

With a direct visual connection to the courtyard, the 128sqm terrace continues this dialogue between the Pavilion’s exterior and interior. During an event, the two spaces could be linked to become one large event zone.

Reflective materials allow the exterior skin to be illuminated with varying colours which can be tailored to the differing programmes of special events in each city.
The dichotomy between the powerful sculptural mass of the Chanel Pavilion’s structure and the lightness of its envelope create a bold and enigmatic element.

The Pavilion’s exterior develops into a rich variety of interior spaces that maximize the potential to reuse and rethink space due to the innate flexibility of its plan.

The total fluidity of the Chanel Pavilion’s curvilinear geometries is an obvious continuation of Hadid’s 30-years of exploration and research into systems of continuous transformations and smooth transitions. With this repertoire of morphology, Zaha Hadid is able to translate the ephemeral typology of a pavilion into the sensual forms required for this celebration of Chanel’s cultural importance.

Henry de Monfreid a French Adventurer

Henry de Monfreid (14 November 1879, Leucate - 13 December 1974) was a French adventurer and author. Born in Leucate, Aude, France, he was the son of artist Georges-Daniel de Monfreid and knew Paul Gauguin as a child.

"I have lived a rich, restless, magnificent life," Monfreid declared a few days before dying in 1974 at the age of 95.

Monfreid was one of those individuals who only find their true focus in life when they stumble across it on their travels. For Monfreid it was to be the African coast from Tanzania to Suez, treacherous routes that he tirelessly sailed in his various expeditions as adventurer, smuggler and gun runner.
In 1911 Monfreid went to Djibouti, then a French colony, in order to trade coffee. He built a boat for himself and used it to traverse the Red Sea. Between 1912 and 1940 he ran guns through the area, dove for pearls & sea slugs, and smuggled hashish into Egypt, earning several stays in prison in the process. He converted to Islam during this period. During the 1930s, Monfreid was persuaded by Joseph Kessel to write about his adventures, and the stories became bestsellers.

During World War II Monfreid served the Italians until he was captured by the British, who deported him to Kenya. After the war he retired to France where he quietly raised a plantation of opium poppies until he was discovered, narrowly escaping prosecution. He settled down to a life of writing, turning out around 70 books over the next 30 years—an astonishing number, to rival any of the great writers. Only a handful of his books have been translated into English and are difficult to find.

During barren periods, when writing was not bringing in enough money, Monfreid relied upon mortgaging the family collection of Gauguin paintings. Only after his death were these discovered to be fake.
Monfreid was far from a calculating merchant. Indeed, he affirmed himself to be "sick and disgusted with businessmen... who ruin with impunity the poor innocents who believe in the value of justice, honesty, integrity and conscience." Yet there was nothing more he feared than "to be obliged to accept the slavery of some dreary job and become a domestic animal." His business dealings were little more than a means for Monfreid to follow his star through the African skies and seas. He fully acknowledged his naïvete in the realm of business and trusted most in his intuition and Providence to sustain him on his precarious course.

Above all, Monfreid loved to be engaged in struggle with the elements: while navigating his way through tempests at sea, his life and the lives of his crew hanging by a thread, existence itself became something pure and precious. He longed only to be with "the sea, the wind, the virgin sand of the desert, the infinity of far-off skies in which wheel the numberless hosts of the skies... and the dream that I became one with them." The works of humanity held little sway for him compared to the majesty of nature itself. The desert taught him about the futility of ambition and when he finally beheld the Pyramids he couldn't wait to leave: "The only thing that one might possibly admire is the stupendous effort it took to build them, and this admiration demands the mentality of a German tourist."

As indicated, few of Monfreid's works have been translated into English. He is probably best known in the English-speaking world for the following two books:

Hashish: A Smuggler's Tale and
Secrets of the Red Sea, a book about gun running.