Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet have announced BIG as the designers for an extension to their headquarters in Le Brassus, near Le Chenit. The design includes gallery spaces for a museum, work spaces and a guest house. Conceived as a spiralling glass pavilion embedded in the landscape, BIG's design - entilted Maison des Fondateurs - will take visitors on a narrative journey through the company's 139-year history.
More images after the break
The spiralling form was conceived as a response to a programmatic requirement, which called for a succession of galleries and workshops, however the logistics of the workshops required them to be connected. The spiral shape allows the workshops to be spread along the narrative path through the building, while being physically adjacent.
The roof of the structure is a continuous sheet of steel clad in brass. Its undulating form allows breaks in the roofline, giving an opportunity for light to enter and for views out. This lightweight roof is supported by structural glass walls which simultaneously control the route through the building while allowing the visitor views of the whole gallery.
In addition to the pavilion-like museum structure, the building includes a subterranean guest house, with views over the Vallée de Joux.
Commenting on the design, Bjarke Ingels said: "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.
"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."
LocationRoute de France 22B, 1348 Le Chenit, Switzerland
Partner-in-ChargeBjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
Project LeaderDaniel Sundlin
Design TeamJi-Young Yoon, Jason Wu, Otilia Pupezeanu, Natalie Kwee, Beat Schenk, Dammy Lee, Blake Smith, Marie Lancon, Yaziel Juarbe, Julien Beauchamp-Roy, Kristian Hindsberg, Pauline Lavie