Audemars Piguet @ New Maison des Fondateurs

Audemars Piguet has chosen the BIG architectural firm to extend its historic buildings and house its new museum, which will also be called the "Maison des Fondateurs". BIG has returned to the origins of Audemars Piguet as inspiration for the project, and the new 2,400sqm (25,800 sq ft) building will be naturally integrated into the magnificent Vallée de Joux landscape. Audemars Piguet, only fine watchmaking brand still in the hands of its founding families, inaugurated its first Museum in 1992 in the original Audemars family home, and later expanded it to the whole house in 2004. Its collection includes more than 1,300 timepieces that are part of the brand's heritage and span 250 years of history. In 2014, the museum enters a new, transformative phase to become the future Audemars Piguet Maison des Fondateurs. It will incorporate exhibition spaces (where nearly 400 watches will be on display) together with workshops, reception and meeting areas, and professionally conserved archives. The original building, dating from 1868, is to be juxtaposed with a radically contemporary structure designed to welcome customers as well as partners, craftsmen and all the brand's stakeholders. In order to achieve this, BIG has conceived a new building in the form of an overlapping spiral that will relate the story of Audemars Piguet to visitors through a dynamic interweaving of past and present. Jasmine Audemars, president of the Audemars Piguet Board of Directors, says: "We're thrilled to announce the start of our new project for the Maison des Fondateurs. As a place to share our passion for watchmaking and a new emblem for Audemars Piguet, the Maison des Fondateurs will symbolise not only the brand's profound attachment to its origins, but also its independent and avant-garde spirit." Bjarke Ingels, BIG founder, gives some insight into the ideas behind the design: “Watchmaking like architecture is the art and science of invigorating inanimate matter with intelligence and performance. It is the art of imbuing metals and minerals with energy, movement, intelligence and measure to bring it to life in the form of telling time. For the Maison des Fondateurs 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 hole”. An architectural competition was held for this ambitious project in which five Swiss and international firms, selected for their creativity and sensitivity to the environment, were invited to participate. The firms include :

BIG CPH, Copenhagen and New York

Caruso Saint John, London and Zurich

Group8, Geneva

Richter Dahl Rocha, Lausanne

Snohetta, Oslo and New York

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