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jacques rougerie architecte

Jacques Rougerie

The architect and the sea

A loyal guest of honour of the company, Jacques Rougerie is the designer of the Blue Eye, a world-exclusive underwater lounge in the PONANT Explorers series ships. Experience a vision of the sea from a poet with visionary ideas, a sea-driven architect and builder of the present.

The birth of a dream

At the outset, there is an “intuition”. The kind that sometimes crosses a musician’s or painter’s mind. A foreshadowing from his African childhood. Eleven years spent along the shores of the Ivory Coast in Abidjan, between rainforest, lagoons and ocean. “As far back as I can remember, the first images that come to me are those of my childhood spent gazing out at the lagoons bordered by virgin forest and the ocean. It’s an imaginary world that took root in me, and that’s why I’ve always had a very powerful and instinctive relationship with water.”

From one world of silence to another

Later, working alongside his geographer-explorer father, Jacques Rougerie came into contact with the likes of Paul-Émile Victor, Théodore Monod and Jacques-Yves Cousteau, all of whom amplified his desire to discover new worlds. Water, the ocean, the people of the sea , but also space and beyond: the future! While Jacques-Yves Cousteau submerged his first underwater house, Jacques Rougerie watched in amazement as Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly into space. He dived into Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea with Jules Vernes, explored the world of Isaac Asimov’s Robots, and embarked on 2001: Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. These novels were full of scientific and technical foreshadowings that would influence the architect’s thinking.

jacques rougerie architecte

“It is from the ocean and space that the destiny of future civilisations will be born.”

This is what prompted Jacques Rougerie to take up architecture at the Beaux-Arts and Arts et Métiers “with a view to one day being able to turn my technological projects into reality”. Then, he “casually” attended seminars at the Institut d’Océanographie in Paris. Jacques Rougerie was everywhere by this stage: in Indonesia meeting the Bajao, the people of the sea who live in harmony with the ocean, and around the world, observing the best in offshore technologies.

Nature is the future!

Diligent and passionate, the young architect gave shape to his first visions. Leonardo da Vinci was an obvious influence on his designs. “Five hundred years ago, he said to his pupils: ‘Go and take your lessons from nature, that’s where our future lies’.” Similarly, Jacques Rougerie made nature his infinite and enduring source of inspiration, sharpening his lifelong attraction to forward-looking architecture and biomimicry. And it was by observing nature that Jacques Rougerie designed his Galathée underwater house, his Aquabulles underwater refuges, his future underwater archaeology museum in Alexandria and his seahorse-bio-inspired SeaOrbiter laboratory. He tried out his habitats himself, which led to him contributing to the underwater world record in La Chalupa, off the coast of Florida.

jacques rougerie architecte

Underwater Archaeological Museum in Alexandria

The SeaOrbiter: the ISS of the oceans

This international semi-submersible station, a scientific, technological and educational laboratory designed to ride the great ocean currents and equipped with an underwater base, is like the International Space Station: an ISS of the seas that is totally autonomous and operational 24/7. Completion is planned for 2026, with the SeaOrbiter becoming fully operational in 2027.

Take to the seas

For over forty years now, Jacques Rougerie has been inspiring fascinating forward-looking architecture in the underwater environment, drawing on his passions, his encounters and his taste for far-flung expeditions. The sea has long been synonymous with mystery, home to strange creatures and a source of worry and danger. “Its only very recently that we’ve become aware of the wonders of the underwater world”, which are still a source of wonder and curiosity today. This awareness stems in large part from Jacques-Yves Cousteau. “It was he who first opened the doors and our eyes to this Silent World. Who made us grasp the fragile balances within this vast universe.” Balances to which human genius and science, however essential, must adapt.

 “Man has long sought to tame the sea. But it’s up to us to adapt to it, and that’s what underpins my whole approach to architecture. You have to work with the sea.”

jacques rougerie architecte


Advancing humanity

Jacques Rougerie’s relationship with this changing world, his fascination with this new world, has fuelled his architectural designs… and his obsessions. Advancing humanity in a sustainable way by supporting people’s imaginations. Reconciling people with their natural environment. And consolidating his intense desire to live in the sea! “When I can no longer see the coastline, I become another person, even more so than a sailor. I feel great! My imagination runs wild. But above all, I am a man of the underwater world, my whole body is in osmosis with it. I feel deeply ‘of the sea’.”

The Blue Eye: viewing the silence

Designed by Jacques Rougerie, the Blue Eye is a lounge built into the waterline of the PONANT Explorers ships. “Bio-inspired” by whale eyes and baleens, this space is a unique window on the underwater world.

jacques rougerie architecte

Travel: food for the soul

Jacques Rougerie is regularly invited to come aboard the PONANT ships. Island-hopping in the West Indies, carving through the ice in extreme northern lands or floating on the water during a long sea voyage… So many adventures, all of which the architect-adventurer holds dear. “Sailing from island to island holds the promise of an exciting human adventure. But on an ocean crossing, our only companion is the ocean. It’s a more sensory experience. A true communion with the sea!” For this ever-curious man, every trip is an opportunity to share his twofold passion for the little-known worlds of sea and space… “Travelling nourishes me and I like to share this pleasure. To sense and arouse the passengers’ curiosity so that they themselves become explorers on their own adventure.”

“Every PONANT cruise is at the crossroads of leisure travel and discovery. It is a formidable vehicle for sharing culture, knowledge and science. It’s the perfect way of appreciating the respect we owe nature, its fragile balances and the human beings who inhabit our blue planet.”

Photo credits : ©Rougerie Architectes

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