The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet Is A Spiral Museum Amid The Swiss Alps
Located in the Swiss town of Le Brassus lies a newly-minted museum that cycles back in time, chronicling 145 years’ of history of the luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet.
The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet, which just opened its doors on June 25, is designed by Danish practice BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and executed by Swiss architecture firm CCHE, whilst German practice Atelier Brückner created a dynamic scenography in the style of a musical score for the institution. It incorporates a museum as well as an archive and workshop—it was built to connect to the recently renovated historic house and watchmaking studio of its founders Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet.
The building’s spiralling design references the shape of a watch spring, while serving as a metaphor for the complex movements in each Audemars Piguet timepiece. Curved glass walls support the entire structure, with brass mesh applied to its exterior to regulate the temperature and light conditions in its interior while providing unblocked views of the valley.
“Watchmaking, like architecture, is the art and science of imbuing metals and minerals with energy, movement, intelligence and measure,” says Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of BIG, reflecting on the inspiration behind its design. “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.”
At the heart of the museum is the Universelle pocket watch—constructed in 1899, it is said to be the more complex timepiece in existence. “The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is a unique place of discovery, learning and conviviality, where knowledge and savior-faire are passed on to the next generation,” says Sebastian Vivas, Audemars Piguet’s heritage and museum director. “The technical complexity of its architecture and scenography connects it to the highly complicated movement of a Grand Complication.”
The wheelchair-accessible museum is currently accepting by-appointment visits and guided tours on weekdays for the rest of this year; tickets can be booked online via its website.
(Related: The Tatler Guide to Building Your Own Museum)