Two curved glass spirals, inspired by the solar system, emerge seamlessly from the Swiss landscape where family-owned company Audemars Piguet started their watchmaking workshop in 1875. Now, with the completion of the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, designed by BIG, visitors can come and experience the art and science of watchmaking.
The steel green roof is entirely supported by structural curved glass. A brass mesh that covers the external surface function as shading. The green roof further helps to regulate the temperature and can absorb water.
Bjarke Ingels explains: “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.”
Visitors travel through the building as through the spring of a timepiece. The floors adapt to the natural gradient of the land in different slants along a continuous linear spatial experience that unfolds the storyline of the museum.
German museum designer Atelier Brückner imagened the route as a musical score with crescendos, highpoints and contemplative moments. Sculptures, automata, kinetic installations and mock-ups of intricate mechanical movements, give life and rhythm to this spatial composition about horological technique and design. The exhibition encapsulates 300 watches from over two centuries. The visit culminates at the center of the spiral with the display of Grandes Complications.
Jasmine Audemars, Audemars Piguet’s Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, states: “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.”
The glass spiral is connected to the historical house where visitors are welcomed into the ancient world of woodwork and stone. This building, restored by Swiss architecture office CCHE, houses the register room, the archives, the Heritage Department, the Audemars Piguet Foundation, as well as the Restoration Atelier. At the top of the building the atelier was re-established where Audemars Piguet debuted.
With the same team of designers, Audemars Piguet is also building the new Hôtel des Horlogers in its hometown of Le Brassus, which will open in the summer of 2021.