Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne by Barozzi Veiga

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts

In 2011 Barozzi Veiga won the international competition for the definition of a masterplan for the new Art District in Lausanne, Switzerland – Platform 10 – and subsequently designed and built the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne.

As an urban strategy, the masterplan implements a new structuring void, a public square around which the new museums gravitate. The void stretches along the site and, being connected to the existing train station square, it constitutes a new continuous main public space. The new architectures become the frame of the urban life of the city and the containers of the new public art centre of Lausanne.

The Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne takes place on the southern edge as a longitudinal monolithic volume, parallel to the rails, defining the urban space while protecting it from the trains’ nuisnces. Embracing this condition, the project carries and expresses the memory of the site, echoing the former industrial condition with pragmatic forms, rigorous geometry and hard, sharp lines.

Moreover, the memory of the place is achieved through the preservation of specific fragments. The design preserves part of the original hall and transforms it as a central piece of the project. The old arched window becomes the main protagonist of the building façade from the railway and, once within the foyer, it reveals its full role as a substantial structuring component of the new building’s sequence of space.

The museum is organized on three floors connected by the continuous void of the foyer that structures the circulation and the program. The ground floor developed as the extension of the public square and shelters the main public programs such as the café, the bookshop, the auditorium etc. The façade on that level is very porous in order to allow for these internal functions to be in continuity with the exterior public space of the square.

On the higher levels, on both sides of the foyer, take place the exhibition spaces. The permanent gallery to the east is separated from the temporary gallery to the west. They can be visited with a single continuous tour or in parallel tours, thanks to independent vertical circulations which allow future comprehensive exhibitions as well as smaller capsule collections. The upper floor is naturally lit up through north oriented modular sheds, designed to filter and adjust the solar light.

These sheds have an internal system of blinds to allow a meticulous control of the amount of light entering the rooms as well as the possibility of a dimmed atmosphere to offer optimal conditions for the art pieces. The overall building façade is relatively hermetic. In order to protect the collections, the museum has a closed, introverted façade to the railway side, to the south.

A more open, permeable and animated façade characterizes the north elevation, towards the public space. The brick façades evoke the industrial history of the site and offer a texture, a vibrant pattern to the monolith. On the square, the vertical blinds’ rhythm breaks the massiveness of the monolith and reveal the openings. At night, these blinds serve as a canvas to diffuse the interior light coming from the museum. Source by Barozzi Veiga.

  • Location: Place de la Gare 16, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Architect: Barozzi Veiga
  • Project team execution phase: Pieter Janssens, Claire Afarian, Alicia Borchardt, Paola Calcavecchia, Marta Grzadziel, Isabel Labrador, Miguel Pereira Vinagre, Cristina Porta, Laura Rodriguez, Arnau Sastre, Maria Ubach, Cecilia Vielba, Nelly Vitiello, Alessandro Lussignoli
  • Project team competition phase: Roi Carrera, Shin Hye Kwang, Eleonora Maccari, Verena Recla, Agnieszka Samsel, Agnieszka Suchocka
  • Project manager: Pragma Partenaires SA
  • Structural consultant: Ingeni SA
  • Built-up area: 12 449 m2
  • Floor area: 6 895m2
  • Building costs: Total cost: 84 500 000 CHF (building: 64 715 000 CHF)
  • Photographs: Simon Menges, Courtesy of Barozzi Veiga