The team of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), HG Merz, Luchinger & Meyer and Muller Illien has been selected for a 2,400 sq m expansion of the Audemars Piguet headquarters in La Vallée de Joux. The history of this luxury Swiss watchmaker dates to 1875 yet the company remains family-owned to this day.
Bjarke Ingels comments: “I have always admired Swiss architecture for its flawless craftsmanship. Swiss buildings sometimes 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.”
The winning design is derived from a strong narrative structure whereby visitors to the new museum - entitled Maison des Fondateurs - are guided through a series of lounges, galleries and workshops, culminating in the attic of the heritage building in the workshop where Audemars Piguet’s journey began.
As such, the form is devised as an intertwined spiral-shaped pavilion, embedded in the ground adjacent to the original Audemars Piguet complex. Through this arrangement the three workshop spaces are merged into a continuous active space surrounded by galleries, while a number of glazed openings in the interlocking spirals enable sunlight to penetrate the areas below.
Ingels continues: “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.”