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designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum

step inside the workshop-museum in le brassus

 

Nestled into the rolling green hills of Le Brassus, Switzerland, the Bjarke Ingels-designed Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet merges history and innovation under one grassy roof. Partially embedded into the ground, the unique structure suggests a spiraling, luminous landform. Ingels and his team completed the pavilion in 2020 to complement the company’s oldest building, where Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet first established their workshop in 1875. A combined museum and active production workshop, visitors are invited to explore a vast collection of historic timepieces as watchmakers demonstrate their craft.

 

With operations now in full swing, designboom visited the museum to experience the making of these timepieces and explore Audemars Piguet‘s extensive collection — especially the ultra-complex ‘Code 11.59’ wristwatch presented in January 2023.

Musée Audemars Piguet Brassusimage © Iwan Baan

 

 

architecture designed by bjarke ingels group

 

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), in close collaboration with Audemars Piguet and local firm CCHE, crafted the spiral-shaped pavilion and musée in Le Brassus with walls of curved structural glass. While these glass walls support the steel roof, they are shaded by a brass mesh which serves to passively control the interior light and temperature — a strategy which is further assisted by the building’s green roof.

 

Inside, the floors are designed to fit the contours of the landscape and create a linear, connected space within the museum. The curved glass walls wrap in a clockwise direction towards the center of the spiral, then move in the opposite direction, allowing visitors to travel throughout the building in the same way that they would move through the winding mechanism of a clock.

Musée Audemars Piguet Brassus
image © Iwan Baan

 

 

observe the meticulous craftsmanship of audemars piguet

 

As the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet combines a museum and workspace, it features traditional workshops where visitors to Le Brassus can observe staff members meticulously crafting the finely detailed timepieces. Spanning two centuries of history, the surrounding museum space displays over three hundred watches, containing feats of complexity, miniaturization, and unconventional designs.

 

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,’ says Bjarke Ingels.

designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum
image © designboom

 

 

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,’ comments Jasmine Audemars, Audemars Piguet’s Chairwoman of the Board of Directors.But, before all, we wanted to pay tribute to the watchmakers and craftspeople who have made what Audemars Piguet is today, generation after generation.’

designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museumimage courtesy Audemars Piguet

 

 

exhibition design by atelier brückner

 

The team worked with ATELIER BRÜCKNER to curate the exhibition space of Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, which the German museum designer envisioned as a ‘musical score.’ Guests are given the opportunity to experience some of the traditional techniques that Audemars Piguet’s finishing experts use, such as satin brushing and circular graining. The tour of the exhibition culminates in the center of the spiral with the display of grandes complications.

 

These astronomical, chiming, and chronograph watches revolve around the ‘Universelle’ (1899), the most complicated watch ever created by Audemars Piguet. Now the collection is joined by the ‘Code 11.59,’ the manufacturer’s very first ultra-complicated self-winding wristwatch — a feat of meticulous engineering which counts over 1,100 components. 

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designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museumimage © designboom

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designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museumimages © designboom

designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum
image © designboom

designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum
image © designboom designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum
image © designboom

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designboom visits audemars piguet watchmakers at spiraling BIG-designed museum
Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4 | image © courtesy Audemars Piguet

 

 

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project info:

 

project title: Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet

design architect: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) @big_builds

location: Route de France 18, CH – 1348 Le Brassus, Switzerland
local architect: CCHE Lausanne SA & CCHE La Vallée SA
structural engineer: Dr. Lüchinger + Meyer Bauingenieure AG
façade consultant: Dr. Lüchinger + Meyer Bauingenieure AG
façade subconsultant: Frener & Reifer
mechanical engineer: Fondation Pierre Chuard Ingénieurs-Conseils SA
lighting consultant: Belzner Holmes Light-Design
scenography/exhibition design: ATELIER BRÜCKNER GmbH

 

pavilion’s total surface: 2,500 sqm

exhibition surface: 900 sqm

number of structural glass panes: 108
load weight supported by glass: about 470 tons
structural glass’ maximum thickness: 12 cm
fabrication time for one glass pane: 3 weeks
public opening: June 25th, 2020

previous coverage: July 2020June 2014

photography: © Iwan Baan, © designboom

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