Swiss luxury watch-maker Audemars Piguet has opened its museum at its home in the Vallée de Joux – Switzerland’s watchmaking heartland. Designed by BIG, the project, created in association with Atelier Brückner, engineers Lüchinger+Meyer, and landscape specialists Muller Illien, is now open to the public.
By strategically placing the new building as a separate entity among the watchmaker’s existing campus, the architects, headed by Bjarke Ingels, were able to work with a spiral, low-profile form, which both encourages a particular route through the museum, while also allowing for flexible, lateral movement, and references the hairspring – the coil that delivers constant energy – in mechanical watches.
The outer walls’ carefully designed curvature ensures the external, super-insulated glass expanses are also load bearing, impressively carrying the whole roof even during the snow-heavy winter months. Meanwhile, strategically placed gaps where different surfaces meet can absorb changes in temperature. ‘Because every glass wall is curving, the curvature lends rigidity to the whole, so with this principle, in a ceismic event it won’t buckle and won’t break. It is so strong that it carries the whole roof,’ says Ingels.
A system of thin brass ribbons is ‘woven’ into an elegant façade pattern that protects the makers’ workshops from the sun, avoiding glare and over-heating, but also discreetly ‘disappears’ if you look at it from different angles. ’We placed the watchmakers along the north facing parts, as it is traditionally the preferred light for the business, so they have light but not glare,’ says Ingels.
The glazed facades not only allows the people working inside it to enjoy precious, natural light all day long, but it also means that the glass swirls and surfaces indoors interact with the sun creating a truly spectacular, shimmering interior. Additionally, it makes displays and workspace open outwards and become at one with the natural landscape around them, in any weather.
So well received was BIG’s concept that the studio is now working on a further project for the brand – a hotel, currently in construction a few steps along the road, which is meant, Ingels explains, ‘to give you the sense that it expands the slope.’ All the more reason to visit this mountain gem of a museum, once official guildelines allow it
More from CONCIERGE
This is the second consecutive year that DIOR has chosen Ibiza for a pop-up store, which opened on 3 July …
The highly acclaimed The Gritti Palace, the finest luxury hotel in Venice proposed a wide array of activities and tips …