The analogy may seem simplistic, but we think these watch straps of steel mesh wrap wrist to the millimetre closely. Thus the new building which includes the seat and the manufacture of the famous Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin presents: a long and thin sheet of metal to moiré effects, composed of an Assembly of elements in stainless steel covering the whole of the construction. Cost of the work: 25 million Swiss francs. "In fact, explains the Franco-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, its author, I have long asked dictionary of ideas in architecture and I'm more a building by the usual words of wall, facade or roof.". The Vacheron Constantin project is part of my achievements that explore the theme of the envelope. The Studio of contemporary arts of le Fresnoy, Tourcoing 1997, Editor's note, or the zenith de Rouen 2001, Editor's note operate on the same principle: a single envelope covers the whole of the building.
The building is 40 metres wide on 80 metres long. It is as posed in the centre of a field planted birch, beech and Berry "such a jewel in a box", says Tschumi. In addition to the concrete structure, wanted very careful because left plain, the choice is focused on three materials. Metal, emblematic material of the project with this double skin composed of openwork modules. Wood, very veined red - cherry of America - that "wife inside the back of the metal skin, such as the lining of a jacket", providing both heat and acoustic quality. Glass, finally, ends space and brings light all over the place.
Transparency is a
The building consists of two separate volumes. The first headquarters, houses the main entrance hall and a large atrium on four levels. To deploy a battery of elevators, stairways and corridors serving offices. All or almost has been realized in glass. Transparency is therefore required. On the top floor restaurant offers a view of the Jura on the one hand, the Alps on the other. The second volume, the manufactory, consists of a single level of 4.5 metres under ceiling. Senior rooflights is providing a constant and diffuse of day and night light. Instead is "sensitive" because it is that draws and manufactures, by hand, the different models of the mark, or 15 000 pieces per year. To access, "watchmakers" through a series of various sas, change to such immaculate outfits of surgeons before access to the operating room. "The contracting authority was required that there is not any grain of dust in workshops, tells Bernard Tschumi. At the level of a watch, a grain of dust is larger than the screw of a movement. "Hence, concealed in the false ceiling, an air-handling even more sophisticated than in hospitals. Each year, approximately 60 kilos of gold dust are thus removed aspiration filters. They will of course return in vault of the factory, "kind of box armoured shoe, a place more than private and secure the possible", prevents the architect. History of discourage potential burglars.
This last achievement of Tschumi ignores show and displays a very rigorous geometry. "Avoiding the expressionist projections that use some of our colleagues, we have focused on the details." We have worked with a magnifying glass. The implementation was of extreme precision. "This is perhaps the building the most accurate that I realized," said. In the image, without doubt, movements incredibly complex watches which are manufactured here.
Bernard Tschumi won the competition launched by Vacheron Constantin, in 2001, in other sizes of world architecture such as Nicholas Grimshaw, Carlos Ferrater, Gae Aulenti, or John Pawson. But it ensures that its origins - it is born in Lausanne, 1944 - are there for nothing. "My Swiss connections do me have never served what anyone!" The year 2001 had been for him a good times with six "competitions" won, including the zenith of Limoges (opening scheduled in 2006) and the new Museum of the Acropolis of Athens (2006-2007). This year, Bernard Tschumi should deliver the Cincinnati Athletics Centre (United States). The next year, the zenith of Limoges and a tower of housing of seventeen floors in New York. "It will be, somehow, the result of our interpretation of the existing town planning regulations, says architect." It will look like a sculpture, with twisted shapes and angles cantilever. "The opposite of the aesthetic tranquillity of the headquarters of the Swiss watchmaker.