BIG Architects wins again with a striking proposal for Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet. The new museum and workshop space, La Maison des Fondateurs, will be located beside the family-owned firm's headquarters in La Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. Designed to seamlessly connect existing structures with the surrounding valley's undulating fields, the spiraling helix structure boasts a small environmental impact and maximum aesthetic appeal.
The 2,400 square meter (25,800 square feet) pavilion was conceived as a storyline for visitors. It guides them through a linear sequence of spaces and events: from the entrance through lounges, galleries and workshops, to the attic of the adjacent heritage building and the original workshop. The brief called for a succession of galleries and workshops, while the logistics of daily operations for the watchmaking firm require the workshops to be interconnected. By coiling up the sequence of spaces in a double spiral, BIG has aligned the three workshops, forming one continuous workspace surrounded by galleries.
The roof and ceiling of the pavilion are conceived as a single sheet of metal – a steel structure clad in brass. The roof is designed as continuous in plan but undulating in section, which will create a series of openings allowing daylight in and unhindered views through to the exhibits. As the building coils upwards, the double spiral intersects the existing museum building providing access to the vaulted spaces in the lower floor and to the attic. The modern materials of concrete and brass will be countered by the straight lines and warm surfaces of wood or stone. “Heavy meets light. Soft meets hard. Warm meets cool.”
Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG, writes of the inspiration for the design: “Watchmaking like architecture is the art and science of invigorating inanimate matter with intelligence and performance. It is the art of imbuing metals and minerals with energy, movement, intelligence and measure – to bring it to life in the form of telling time. Unlike most machines and most buildings today that have a disconnect between the body and the mind, the hardware and the software, for the Maison des Fondateurs we have attempted to completely integrate the geometry and the performance, the form and the function, the space and the structure, the interior and the exterior in a symbiotic whole.”
Jasmine Audemars, President of Audemars Piguet’s Board of Directors, adds: “We are proud to announce the winning proposal of our new Maison des Fondateurs project, a new flagship for Audemars Piguet and a place for people to enjoy and share the passion of watchmaking. La Maison des Fondateurs not only symbolizes the deep connection between the brand and its origins but also its spirit of independence and avant-garde.”
Images by BIG