Why Architect Bjarke Ingels Gave The New Audemars Piguet Museum A Spiral Design

Luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet just wrapped construction on its namesake museum, a project it placed in the hands of a superstar architect. Situated near its historic headquarters in Le Brassus, the Swiss timepiece manufacturer wanted to riff on tradition while also offering modern aesthetics. To achieve a design equal of the grandeur of its watches, the brand enlisted prolific Danish architect Bjarke Ingels who envisioned a swirling structure reminiscent of a watch’s inner working. “You have a spiral, almost like a spring hovering above your head,” Ingels told Architectural Digest. “It’s inspired by the element in the timepiece that stores and delivers the energy of the clock.”

Constructed with a green rooftop, the 25,800-square-foot space is designed to create a natural flow of foot traffic through its winding corridors. The building––officially known as the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet––will serve multiple purposes: as an extensive archive, a museum and a workshop where visitors can witness the full watchmaking process from behind glass walls. This kind of multi-layered design characterises much of Bjarke Ingels’ work. “He doesn’t want you to walk into any of his spaces once and be amazed,” Audemars Piguet historian, Michael Friedman, told Robb Report about the architect last year. “He wants you to be amazed the 500th time you do.”

The interior features ramped floors that connect uneven levels. Meanwhile its exterior showcases a brass-and-steel honeycomb-shaped screen that envelops the structure to provide shade–––without interrupting the airy concept. “In watchmaking, a lot of the disciplines are what you could call getting the maximum amount of impact with a minimum amount of material,” Ingels told AD. “The idea is similar to this structure, and how the glass carries the entire roof over our heads….The museum is almost like an open work.”

This structure isn’t the only project Bjarke Ingels and his BIG architecture firm are tackling for Audemars Piguet. Next up, the designer will undertake a 75,350-square-foot, 32-room Audemars hotel. Dubbed the Hôtel des Horlogers, it will show off zig-zagging slabs that rise to create a sloped exterior, echoing the surrounding mountain-scape.

Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is scheduled to open to the public on 25 June this year.

Audemars Piguet

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