First look: BIG's spiraling museum for watchmaker Audemars Piguet

The glass-and-steel pavilion's spiral structure acts as a storytelling device for the company's history.

June 13, 2014 |
All renderings courtesy of BIG

Danish firm BIG unveils their newest design – a spiraling structure of steel and glass that juts down into the earth at La Vallée de Joux, Switzerland, for luxury watchmaker company Audemars Piguet.

BIG, along with HG Merz, Luchinger & Meyer and Muller Illien were commissioned by the company to design their newest flagship, which will also be an expansion of the company’s headquarters.

The 25,800-sf pavilion will house the company’s museum, called Maison des Fondateurs. According to Jasmine Audemars, president of Audemars Piguet’s Board of Directors, the museum will be “a place for people to enjoy and share the passion of watchmaking.”

The spiral shape is a storytelling device for the company’s history; as visitors walk down, they are guided through a linear sequence of spaces and events through lounges, galleries and workshops, until they are eventually led to the heritage building in a workshop where the company originated.

In addition to the pavilion, the building will include an underground guest house with windows camouflaged under grassy hills, providing views over the Vallée de Joux.

Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG, comments on 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 hole”.

“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,” Audemars adds.

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