Three public spaces at the intersection of science and art
03.11.16 - The new ArtLab building, designed by Kengo Kuma, is being inaugurated today at EPFL. Three distinct spaces are united below a 250 meter long slate roof, each dedicated to fostering the dialogue between science and culture. Federal councilor Alain Berset will be present at the inauguration ceremony along with Patrick Aebischer, president of EPFL, and the partners of the project.
Today, EPFL propels a new field of research. The ArtLab building and its associated research programs present a variety of ways in which art and science can engage in a fruitful dialogue. The building is the work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who won the competition to design it in 2012. Its construction, which began in August 2014, was carried out by the general contractor Marti Construction SA. Almost half of the 35,5 million franc building, including facilities, was financed using private funds.
“Beyond its architectural envelope, ArtLab is a research initiative through which EPFL, together with its partners, is setting off to explore a new world: that of digital humanities,” says Patrick Aebischer, president of EPFL. “It’s an emerging field full of scientific questions and challenges that play out at many levels. For example, our projects often produce enormous amounts of data. Merely transforming this big data into something useful and exploitable requires substantial research – it’s extremely stimulating.”
Technology for music, art...
The ArtLab building, which long went by its project name Under One Roof, is composed of three distinct spaces, all of which are open to the public. At its southern end, the Montreux Jazz Café at EPFL is dedicated to presenting the famous festival’s archives, which are inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Besides leading the digitization and preservation of the recordings as part of the Montreux Jazz Digital Project, EPFL has designed devices to browse, visualize, and listen to the archives that will be available to the public. In the Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab, visitors will be able to fully immerse themselves into the festival’s concerts. The Montreux Jazz Digital Project, which involved several EPFL laboratories, was made possible thanks to the support of several partners.
At the center of the building, in an experimental exhibition space, the Gandur Foundation for Art will present its first exhibit organized in partnership with EPFL. Using technology developed by five EPFL laboratories and related startups, the Outrenoirs by Pierre Soulages will be presented in a way never seen before, using approaches such as ultrafast photography and hyperspectral cameras. The exhibit, entitled "Noir, c’est noir?" (Is black black?), explores the interaction between light and the French artist’s work.
... and big data
Finally, at the building’s northern end, the DataSquare will host a long-term exhibition on big data, represented by two major EPFL research initiatives: the Blue Brain Project and Venice Time Machine. These two complex initiatives have a common denominator in their relationship with data and the need to share their findings with the general public. In the DataSquare, they will be the subjects of highly interactive presentations. The exhibition will also include an innovative interface that visualizes key data about EPFL in which the school itself will be examined through the lens of big data. The DataSquare is funded, in particular, by the watch brand Rolex.
These three public spaces will enliven life on the campus. The ArtLab building borders Place Cosandey, which stretches from the Esplanade to the Rolex Learning Center. This vast area is being completely reorganized according to plans made by students from the Design Studio on the Conception of Space (ALICE), an architecture lab at EPFL, on the basis of a survey of the campus population. It is bound to become a meeting point and recreational area for the community.
The new ArtLab construction and interview Kengo Kuma: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=UvwA-piHwX8
Press Kit (press release and images):go.epfl.ch/ArtLabInauguration