BIG creates spiral museum for Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet
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BIG creates spiral museum for Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet

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Watchmaking, like architecture, is the art and science of imbuing metals and minerals with energy, movement, intelligence and measure to bring them to life in the form of telling time

Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet will open a museum celebrating the company history next month (June 2020).

Located next to the company HQ in the village of Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, the museum has been designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and will immerse visitors in the manufacturer’s "cultural universe past, present and future".

BIG won an architectural competition to design the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet in 2014.

The firm's design is based on a contemporary spiral-shaped glass pavilion, complementing Audemars Piguet's oldest building, where Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet first opened their workshop in 1875.

The combination of the two spaces has been designed to symbolise the blend of tradition and forward-thinking at the heart of Audemars Piguet’s craftsmanship, while honouring the historic company's deep-rooted origins in the Vallée de Joux.

Realised by the Swiss architecture office CCHE, the glass pavilion rises on walls of structural curved glass and is the first construction of its kind to be built at such altitude – the village of Le Brassus is located on a mountain at an altitude of around 1,023m.

The curved glazing entirely supports the steel roof, while a brass mesh runs along the external surface to regulate light and temperature. The green roof further helps regulate temperature, while also absorbing water.

BIG designed the spiral to integrate the surrounding landscape, while the floors follow different slants to adapt to the natural gradient of the land – and provide the basis of the museum’s inner layout, which is stretched into a linear, continuous spatial experience.

Inside, the curved glass walls converge clockwise towards the spiral’s centre, before moving in the opposite direction.

As a result, visitors travel through the building as they would through the spring of a timepiece.

“Watchmaking, like architecture, is the art and science of imbuing metals and minerals with energy, movement, intelligence and measure to bring them to life in the form of telling time," Bjarke Ingels said.

Jasmine Audemars, chair of Audemars Piguet’s Board of Directors, added: "Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet offers a unique perspective of the Vallée de Joux and of the history of watchmaking.

“We wanted visitors to experience our heritage, savoir-faire, cultural origins and openness to the world in a building that would reflect both our rootedness and forward-thinking spirit.

"But, before all, we wanted to pay tribute to the watchmakers and craftspeople who have made what Audemars Piguet is today, generation after generation.”

German museum designer Atelier Brückner has created the exhibition space as a "musical score".

It features sculptures, automata, kinetic installations and mock-ups of intricate mechnical movements as "interludes", designed to "give life and rhythm to various aspects of horological technique and design". The museums showcases more than 300 watches, spanning the company's two centuries of craftsmanship.

Visitors are also invited to try their hands at some of the ancestral techniques perpetuated by Audemars Piguet’s finishing experts, such as satin brushing and circular graining.

The visit culminates at the centre of the spiral with the display of Grandes Complications.

“The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is a unique place of discovery, learning and conviviality where knowledge and savoir-faire are passed on to the next generation," said Sébastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet’s heritage and museum director

"The technical complexity of its architecture and scenography connects it to the highly complicated movement of a Grande Complication.”

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is set to open its doors on 25 June 2020.

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Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet will open a museum celebrating the company history next month (June 2020).
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