It's about time: BIG designs spiraling green-roofed watch museum
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) recently completed a new museum and workshop for Swiss luxury watchmaker Atelier Audemars Piguet. It's a superb building defined by an attractive spiraling design and is topped by a green roof that helps it take its place well amid the rolling landscape.
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is situated among the existing workshops and factories in Le Brassus, La Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. It's also a stone's throw away from BIG's under-construction Audemars Piguet Hôtel des Horlogers, which you can take a sneak peek at on the left of the photograph below.
Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet's spiraling form was conceived in collaboration with local architecture office CCHE (Atelier Brückner, HG Merz, Lüchinger und Meyer, and Müller Illien were also involved). The building's generous curved glazing consists of 108 glass panels, each of which took three weeks to fabricate. These fill the interior with daylight and also provide structural support for its steel roof, which is in turn covered with greenery, helping to insulate it. A brass mesh screen on the exterior adds shade too.
The interior measures 2,373 sq m (roughly 25,500 sq ft) and is laid-out in a spiral path, with the idea being that visitors travel through the building "as they would the spring of a timepiece." An exhibition displaying 300 of Atelier Audemars Piguet's finest timepieces takes pride of place, though there are workshop areas too. This is a nice touch and allows visitors to observe watchmakers going about their painstakingly intricate craft – for example, a timepiece may spend up to eight months in the hands of a single watchmaker.
"To offer visitors a diverse experience with crescendos, highpoints and contemplative moments, German museum designer Atelier Brückner imagined the composition of the exhibition as a musical score," explains Atelier Audemars Piguet. "Interludes, including sculptures, automata, kinetic installations and mock-ups of intricate mechanical movements, give life and rhythm to various aspects of horological technique and design."
At the center of the watch exhibition is a special timepiece created by the firm back in 1899. Named Universelle, the pocket watch is Atelier Audemars Piguet's most complex creation to date and has over 20 complications and 1,168 individual components.
If you'd like to pay a visit and see it for yourself, the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is due to open in early July.