Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
MUSEUM FOR SWISS WATCH MAKER AUDEMARS PIGUET in Le Brassus, Switzerland by BIG Architects
June 15th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: BIG Architects
Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet chooses BIG to expand its historic headquarters. The 2.400m2/25,800 ft pavilion will be a striking landmark to precision seamlessly integrated into the local landscape.
Team BIG, HG Merz, Luchinger & Meyer and Muller Illien´s design is rooted in the origins of the family owned company, a history of watchmaking that goes back centuries and is nested in the nature and culture of the Vallée de Joux. Surrounded by the historical workshops in Le Brassus in the heart of La Vallée de Joux, the new museum called Maison des Fondateurs, will be imbedded in the landscape – reuniting the buildings with the undulating fields of the valley.
Jasmine Audemars, President of Audemars Piguet´s Board of Directors, comments: “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 symbolises the deep connection between the brand and its origins but also its spirit of independence and avant-garde.”
BIG created an intertwined spiral shaped pavilion which is conceived as a storyline for the visitors – blending old and new – and guiding the visitor through a linear sequence of spaces and events, from the entrance through lounges, galleries and workshops, to the attic of the heritage building in the workshop where it all began.
Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG: “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 hole”.
The intertwined spirals solve one of the dilemmas of the program. The narrative structure calls for a succession of galleries and workshops, while the logistics of operations requires the workshops to be interconnected. By coiling up the sequence of spaces in a double spiral, the three workshops find themselves in immediate adjacency – forming one continuous workspace – surrounded by galleries.
The roof and ceiling of the pavilion is conceived as a single sheet of metal – a steel structure clad in brass, continuous in plan but undulating in section to create a series of openings allowing daylight and views to the exhibits. Towards the end of the visit the double spiral intersects the existing museum building providing access to the vaulted spaces in the lower floor and to the attic. The dynamic forms of modern materials, concrete and brass, give way for a locally anchored tectonic of straight lines and warm surfaces of wood or stone. Heavy meets light. Soft meets hard. Warm meets cool.
“I have always admired Swiss architecture for its flawless craftsmanship. Swiss buildings sometime make you suspect that they have been built by watchmakers. That we are now working directly for the family of the original founders Audemars and Piguet is going to be an amazing exploration in mastery and innovation”, says Bjarke Ingels.
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group is a Copenhagen and New York based group of architects, designers and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. BIG is led by eight partners – Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Finn Nørkjær, David Zahle, Jakob Lange, Thomas Christoffersen and Managing Partners, Sheela Maini Søgaard and Kai-Uwe Bergmann. With an international team of more than 200 people, BIG works on projects across a broad spectrum of industries and in more than 20 countries worldwide. We take a human-centered approach to our work – looking at how our urban environments can increase the quality of life in finding ways of designing cities and buildings as double ecosystems that are both ecologically and economically profitable. In our work process we put great focus on the necessary details in order to realize the BIG idea. www.big.dk
Audemars Piguet is the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families (Audemars and Piguet). Since 1875, the company has written some of the finest chapters in the history of haute horlogerie, including a number of world firsts. In the Vallée de Joux, at the heart of the Swiss Jura, numerous masterpieces are created in limited series embodying a remarkable degree of horological perfection, including daring sporty models, classic and traditional timepieces, splendid ladies’ jewellery-watches, as well as one-of-a-kind creations. The famous 1972 octagonal Royal Oak, the first luxury watch to be made of stainless steel, is widely recognised as one of the most important innovations in watchmaking. www.audemarspiguet.com
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