Cinémathèque suisse

Cinémathèque suisse

EM2N Architects
CH–1303 Penthaz, Switzerland
Project Year
© Damian Poffet

Cinémathèque suisse

EM2N Architects as Architects

Paradoxically, the charm of the existing Cinémathèque lay in its simple and utilitarian appearance. The home of the national collective film memory presented itself as an unpretentious accumulation of sheds that was focussed more on contents than on packaging. The extension project accepts this starting point and makes it its own. The layout of the existing buildings which are arranged linearly alongside each other is translated by new additions and remodelling into a composite, ambivalent form of parallel buildings of different lengths. Only the end situation is differentiated by making a number of angled cuts; in this way the building acquires a face.


The principle of placing buildings alongside each other is evident in the interior, too. The three main circulation routes, which are placed above one another, pass through the parallel cross-walls at right angles, allowing the sequential arrangement of the ‘individual’ buildings to be experienced. The suspended conference rooms in the two-storey entrance and exhibition hall are in turn connected with each other by windows. When looking across and through the building this produces a perspective depth while also suggesting associations to filmic processes such as montage and cutting.


While the public areas and all work places are concentrated in Penthaz I, the archive itself on the far side of the road is conceived as a purely underground storage space. In this way the functional and atmospheric side effects are restricted to an absolute minimum. Penthaz II is a kind of super-functional bunker that ensures the best possible protection for the culturally valuable artefacts. In a simple manner a kind of urban disposition is achieved that, on the one hand, reacts to the expansiveness of the nearby agricultural landscape and on the other gives Cinémathèquesuisse as an institution an emphatically clear address.


The new envelope of rusted steel, an industrial material that emanates a sensual quality, encases the entire complex and binds the new and the existing parts together. The gradual weathering of this natural material is a reference to the archive’s function in preserving film and gives the complex a differentiated identity of its own. The modulated, condensed roofscape composed of gently sloping, planted roofs takes up the theme of industrial production facilities or film studios.


Material Used:

1. AS Ascenseurs SA – Elevators
2. Forster Archiv- und Verkehrstechnik GmbH – Sliding Storage Shelves
3. NORBA SA – Internal glazing

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Project team
Product Spec Sheet

Sliding Storage ShelvesForster Archiv- und Verkehrstechnik GmbH
Internal glazingNORBA SA
Product Spec Sheet
Sliding Storage Shelves
Internal glazing
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