Audemars Piguet, the oldest luxury watch company still owned by its founding families, has announced plans to extend its historic headquarters building to incorporate a new museum called the Maison des Fondateurs, a “radically contemporary” new structure that will be naturally integrated into the surrounding Vallée de Joux landscape.
Audemars Piguet inaugurated its first museum in 1992 inside the original Audemars family home, and later expanded it to the entire 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. This year, the museum enters a new, transformative phase. Audemars Piguet has enlisted the Copenhagen- and New York-based architectural firm BIG CPH to design the extension, which will add a new 25,800 square-foot structure incorporating exhibition spaces (where nearly 400 watches will be on display) as well as workshops, reception and meeting areas, and professionally conserved archives.
The original building, dating from 1868, will be juxtaposed with the planned new building, which BIG has conceived as an unconventional, overlapping spiral design that is meant to convey the story of Audemars Piguet, from its origins to the present, “through a dynamic interweaving of past and present.”
“We’re thrilled to announce the start of our new project for the Maison des Fondateurs,” says Jasmine Audemars, president of the Audemars Piguet Board of Directors. “As a place to share our passion for watchmaking and a new emblem for Audemars Piguet, the Maison des Fondateurs will symbolize not only the brand’s profound attachment to its origins, but also its independent and avant-garde spirit.”
BIG beat out four other Swiss and international architectural firms in a competition for the project. Its founder, Bjarke Ingels, provided 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.”