Elysée Museum and Mudac completed in Lausanne

Twinned cultural destination Musée de l’Elysée and Mudac completed in Lausanne

Architecture studio Aires Mateus completes building to house Musée de l’Elysée and Mudac in Lausanne, Switzerland

After five years of preparation, the building of the Musée de l’Elysée and Mudac in Lausanne is now complete. The structure, an elegant concrete building defined by minimalist architectural geometries and a rugged look, is the brainchild of Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus and his Lisbon-based team. Part of the city’s booming arts district, this museum hub is a key cultural destination for Lausanne and Switzerland as a whole.

From the outset and entry into the studio competition, Aires Mateus’ design united the two museums and their collections and programs seamlessly in one building. The organizers explain: “A “box” for photography, a “box” for design, united by a meeting space, a place to live together, like an extension of the public space, in the perspective of Platform 10. An invitation to a march.’

Extending over more than 1,500 m² of exhibition space and numerous outdoor spaces in the form of green gardens, patios and a green roof, the project is set to become a center of cultural and social activities for the city. The complex consists of two interconnected wings which offer spacious exhibition halls of their own. A dramatic central staircase not only connects the two sections of the building program, but also provides a sense of arrival, monumentality and clarity in vision of the arrangement.

Light played a key role in sculpting the shapes inside and out. Skylights, strategically placed slits in the wall and larger openings combine to create a masterfully lit interior. “We wanted visitors, wherever they were in the foyer, to always be in full view, feeling like they were outside. Our goal was to trigger a special spatial feeling. For us, that was the main role of architecture,” says Aires Mateus.

At the same time, a café, a library and a bookstore complete the modular exhibition spaces, making a functional and thoughtful whole. “The rooms must be sufficiently neutral to allow frequent changes of scenography. We have designed a foyer with well-defined spaces, while the exhibition areas remain open to allow free use,” adds the architect. §

About Margaret L. Portillo

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