Le Brassus, June 25, 2020 – Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet is delighted to open the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet to the public. The new museum designed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) unifies the original workshop, established by Audemars Piguet’s founders in 1875, with a new all-glass structure, made up of two spirals that seamlessly integrate into the existing landscape. The museum’s collection, which showcases some 300 timepieces, is displayed alongside two in-situ production workshops, creating a living museum. With a design that marries tradition and innovation, the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the history of watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux and explore how the brand’s timepieces, crafted in Le Brassus, have been raised around the world.
In 2014, BIG’s design for the new museum was selected by Audemars Piguet following an architectural competition to expand the brand’s historical premises and “illustrate the soul of the Manufacture,” according to Jasmine Audemars, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. The result was a spiral-shaped pavilion, reminiscent of the spring in a timepiece movement, entirely supported by curved glass walls. The contemporary spiral flanks the original workshop where the Audemars Piguet story began in 1875 and where an earlier version of the museum was housed from 1992 to 2019. The vernacular architecture of the historical building has been fully recovered based on a thorough study of archival materials. The concept of the Musée Atelier thus fuses the tradition and forward-thinking ethos which exists at the heart of Audemars Piguet.
As Bjarke Ingels, BIG’s Founder and Creative Director explains, “Unlike most machines and most buildings today that have a disconnect between the body and the mind, the hardware and the software, for the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet we have attempted to completely integrate the geometry and the performance, the form and the function, the space and the structure, the interior and the exterior in a symbiotic whole.”
The elaborate architectural project was executed by teams of experts and artisans including CCHE, the local architecture firm who built the structure—the first of its kind at such altitude. The scenography imagined by internationally renowned ATELIER BRÜCKNER was constructed as a musical score, creating a dynamic experience for visitors. Interludes, including automata, kinetic installations and mock-ups of intricate mechanical movements, give life and rhythm to various aspects of horological technique and design. As viewers circle the building, the rich collection of watches illuminates the history of Audemars Piguet and of watchmaking in the valley. The visit culminates at the centre of the spiral with the display of some of the Manufacture’s most complicated watches. The spiral also includes two workshops, where Haute Joaillerie creations and Grandes Complications are crafted. Visitors can observe watchmakers working within the curved glass walls of the museum and experience their expertise first-hand.
Sébastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet’s Heritage and Museum Director explains, “The Musée Atelier honours the Audemars and Piguet families who were part of a very long tradition of watchmaking. The new space, together with the traditional workshop, make for the perfect meeting place where visitors can engage with us and our watchmakers, whilst learning about the brand and the history of watchmaking in the region.”
The spiral pavilion also speaks to BIG’s, CCHE’s and Audemars Piguet’s shared engagement in environmental sustainability. The contemporary structure fulfils the latest Swiss Minergie® requirements in terms of energy efficiency and high quality construction. The Musée Atelier also houses the Audemars Piguet Foundation, which has contributed to forest conservation through environmental protection and youth awareness-raising programmes since 1992.
Furthering the company’s cultural and artistic engagement, the Musée Atelier is also a fitting exhibition venue for a selection of artworks created by contemporary artists, commissioned by Audemars Piguet. For the opening of the museum, Audemars Piguet is exhibiting commissioned artworks lent by longstanding friends of the brand Dan Holdsworth, Quayola and Alexandre Joly, which reflect the creative exchange the Manufacture has fostered between Haute Horlogerie and contemporary art since 2012.
“Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.”
About Audemars Piguet
Audemars Piguet is the oldest fine watchmaking manufacturer still in the hands of its founding families (Audemars and Piguet). Based in Le Brassus since 1875, the company has nurtured generations of talented craftspeople who have continuously developed new skills and techniques, broadening their savoir-faire to set rule-breaking trends. In the Vallée de Joux, at the heart of the Swiss Jura, Audemars Piguet has created numerous masterpieces, testament to the Manufacture’s ancestral craftsmanship and forward-thinking spirit. Sharing its passion and savoir-faire with watch enthusiasts worldwide through the language of emotions, Audemars Piguet has established enriching exchanges among fields of creative practices and fostered an inspired community. Born in Le Brassus, raised around the world.
About BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
BIG is a group of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers and inventors based in Copenhagen, New York, London and Barcelona. The office is involved in a large number of projects throughout Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes due to the influence of multicultural exchange, global economic flows and communication technologies that all together require new ways of architectural and urban organisation. BIG challenges the general perception of sustainability as guided by an idea of a moral code and instead seeks to design cities and buildings as triple ecosystems that are ecologically, economically and socially profitable. They see their projects as opportunities to increase the quality of life and they approach the question of sustainability not as a moral dilemma but as a design challenge.
BIG believes that in order to deal with today’s challenges, architecture should profitably move into a field that has been largely unexplored—a pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism. BIG creates architecture by mixing conventional ingredients such as living, leisure, working, parking and shopping. By hitting the fertile overlap between pragmatic and utopia, BIG architects find the freedom to change the surface of our planet, to better fit contemporary life forms. www.big.dk
About ATELIER BRÜCKNER
ATELIER BRÜCKNER is internationally known for its scenographic work. The studio conceives and designs narrative architecture and spaces for brands, exhibitions, trade fairs and museums. From content and messages, they develop surprising ideas and create memorable concepts that set international standards.
Architects, graphic designers, scientists, stage directors, product designers and media designers all work together to deliver architectural and exhibition concepts with the aim of creating a “Gesamtkunstwerk” that is more than the sum of its parts and is able to entrance visitors by appealing to all of their senses.
The Atelier, based in Stuttgart, Germany and Seoul, South Korea, counts today 120 employees.
For over a century, CCHE has worked across a variety of domains including urbanism, architecture and interior design, orchestrating a wide scope of tailor-made, refined and contemporary architectural projects, from their conception to their realisation.
CCHE currently counts 13 associates and about 230 employees spread between five offices in Lausanne, Geneva, Nyon, the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland and Porto in Portugal. For each project, a multidisciplinary team of architects, project managers, urbanists, designers, construction managers, landscapers, environmental engineers and construction economists working together, is set up to answer clients’ needs and ensure quality details as well as a swift and cost-efficient implementation.
Committed to sustainable development and social responsibility, CCHE was the first architecture office in the French-speaking part of Switzerland to be rewarded with the title of Eco-Entreprise for its sustainable and responsible architectural projects in 2009.
CCHE has collaborated on a variety of international projects with renowned architectural offices, including BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and Kengo Kuma, among others.
About the Audemars Piguet Foundation
The Audemars Piguet Foundation has been contributing since 1992 to the cause of worldwide forest conservation through environmental protection and youth awareness-raising programmes. Since its creation, the Foundation has supported over 139 projects in 52 countries.
Preserving forests, educating children to the environment, restoring biodiversity and valorising traditional knowledge are our priorities. Our approach aims to initiate, through the projects we fund, a virtuous circle of sustainable development, by and with local communities.
As the Foundation embeds Audemars Piguet’s traditional values, it also oversees the company’s corporate social responsibility undertakings globally.
The Board of the Audemars Piguet Foundation is chaired by Mrs. Jasmine Audemars, daughter of Jacques-Louis Audemars, who initiated the Foundation.
About Audemars Piguet Contemporary
Audemars Piguet Contemporary commissions international artists to create contemporary artworks, fostering a global community of creators. The Manufacture believes in the power of contemporary art to connect and be connected. Its patronage resonates with the talented artisan community it has supported and grown in the Vallée de Joux, where the brand has been rooted since 1875.
Audemars Piguet accompanies each commission process from inception to development to exhibition and builds experiences for audiences to engage with the work around the world. The resulting artworks belong to the artists and contribute to their body of work.
Since 2012, Audemars Piguet Contemporary has nurtured artistic exchanges with artists around the world including Kurt Hentschläger, Dan Holdsworth, Ryoji Ikeda, Lars Jan, Theo Jansen, Alexandre Joly, Kolkoz, Robin Meier, Quayola, Cheng Ran, Arin Rungjang, Tomás Saraceno, Semiconductor, Jana Winderen and Sun Xun. Commissioned artworks have been presented worldwide, at major venues including Art Basel (of which Audemars Piguet has been an Associate Partner since 2013) in Hong Kong, Basel, Miami Beach; the Venice Biennale; Times Square, New York City; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; HeK (House of Electronic Arts), Basel; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; and Ars Electronica, Linz.
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