Fine Arts Museum, in Lausanne

The goal of this project is to transform this area of the city of Lausanne into a district dedicated to the arts with the city’s three main museums at its heart: Fine Arts, Photography and Decorative Arts.

All of this is sited within a very complex urban setting, affected by old railway yards which are currently in a state of disuse. This project embodies a dual reflection. The first revolves around the urban strategy to follow, while the second addresses the architectural concept behind the Fine Arts Museum.

As for the urban strategy, the decision to unveil this part of the city and connect it with the station square entails sacrificing the 19th-century buildings that exist on the site in order to generate a new public space. The idea is for the three new buildings to gravitate around this open space and for them to be understood as a single entity, in a similar way to the buildings of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The decision to demolish most of the existing buildings poses dilemmas regarding the conservation of the historic memory of the place. To compensate for this, the design enhances a collection of found fragments, incorporating them from the start. The building’s new foyer emerges from the end facade of a former train shed like an objet trouvé that ends up being the design’s main compositional element from which the museum’s entire program comes to life. Hence, elements such as this facade, some stretches of train tracks or the arches of the northern wall act as spring mechanisms that trigger the memory of the place and allow it a clear presence within the ensemble.

Both internally and externally, the Fine Arts Museum is conceived as a backdrop upon which the different realities that it will accommodate can be shown. Facing the tracks, the building stands as a wall that protects the public space onto which it opens, while the interior is a continuation of the exterior. Thus, the spatial sequence yields center stage to the function that it houses. As in a large industrial factory where the structure takes priority over the composition of facades, the building can be defined as an inhabited wall that divides, with precision, the industrial world from the new public space.

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This project summarizes the search for an apparently contradictory equilibrium between the specificity of the place and the formal autonomy of the building, which is conditioned by its solitary situation. Structure, program and construction converge in a unitary conglomeration, demonstrating its validity and functionality despite the context’s transformation.

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