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Rolex Learning Center, Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday 17 Feb 2010
 

SANAA's Rolex Learning Center complete

 
(c) Hisao Suzuki 
 
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26/02/10 BR, Athens, GA
Does Switzerland have handicap codes? This building does look like fun, but I can imagine my grandmother rolling down those ramps...and not in a fun kind of way.
25/02/10 GP, NYC
Apart from parking cars on acres of ramps, do they plan to use any furniture ?
Sitting on the floor is an enhanced learning experience.
23/02/10 James VanderMolen, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
I'm sure for able-bodied people this space would be intriguing...and even fun. But can you imagine being in a wheelchair? Or on crutches? Or in any way limited in mobility? A nightmare. Lacking floor plans, it is difficult to assess as a learning environment, but from what is shown I predict walls will go up in short order. Anyone who has attempted to learn or teach in one of the 1970's experiments in open classrooms knows what problems are in store for the poor inhabitants of this building.
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Editorial

Landmark learning space opens doors to new way of learning in Swiss city 

The 'radical and highly experimental' Rolex Learning Center by rising starchitects SANAA will officially open its doors on 22 February. Part of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the new building is used as a model for modern learning facilities.

Set across just one level with a basement, the undulating box form introduces a distinct lack of physical boundaries grouping silent and calm zones along its hills and slopes, rather than offering traditional cloistered study rooms, say the architects, adding that the resultant increased interaction will act to encourage solidarity between students.

“...the topography created by the architecture will induce architectural experiences that have not been felt in traditional buildings,"said SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. "When standing on top of the hill, you might not see the other hill but might hear faint voices, or you might not be able to see the other place but your body can sense there is a connection to another space. Unlike traditional one-room spaces, new relationships will emerge and we hope this will create a new type of architectural experience."

Facilities within the space include a multimedia library with approximately 500,000 volumes, a multipurpose hall with 600 seats, student workspace with 860 seats, a restaurant, bookshop and even a bank. The student association for EPFL and Alumni office are also housed in the new facility.

The building configuration of two ‘shells’ was achieved through computer simulation to find the shapes with the least bending stresses. Inside the two shells are 11 under-stressed arches. The smaller shell sits on four arches, 30-40 metres long, while the larger shell rests on seven arches, 55-90 metres long. The arches are held by 70 underground pre-stressed cables. Constructed primarily of wood and steel, a polished looking underside is achieved by precise pouring of concrete into formwork.

Because of its flowing singular form all elements of the design had to be flexible to accommodate minute changes in dimension caused by natural and structural movements. Even the curved glass façades, including those that wrap around the patios had to be and so each piece of glass is cut separately, and each piece moves independently on jointed frames.

SANAA are fast becoming the architects to watch out for. Breaking out of Japan they have seen the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York through to completion, designed last year's Serpentine Pavilion and were chosen as architects for the new Louvre Lens addition to the famed art museum currently under construction in Lille.

Key Facts

Status Complete
Value 75(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
SANAA
www.sanaa.co.jp

More projects by this architect

The River

Taichung City Cultural Center

Louvre-Lens

Grace Farms River Building

Serpentine Pavilion 2009

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