Where Science, Art and Society Meet
Last August, a public-private partnership enabled the launch of construction of the Under One Roof building, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma to house three areas dedicated to interactions between science, art and society.
The symbolic first stone of the Under One Roof building was laid today, six months after the start of a construction project to be completed by autumn 2016. About half (CHF 18 million) of the total cost of the future building (39 million) is financed by the Swiss Government, while the balance is provided by sponsors including the Rolex watchmaking firm, the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art and a group of partners involved in the Montreux Jazz Digital Project.
The sleek, spectacular building still referred to under its project name (Under One Roof) was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and is being built by general contractor Marti Construction SA. It will fuel the heart of EPFL with new dynamics around the three areas brought together under its roof, close to 250 metres long. Each of these spaces aims to bridge science, art and society in its own way.
To the north of the new complex, the first space will be dedicated to promoting key EPFL research projects. In a spirit of knowledge sharing and interaction with the general public, the goal of this area is to stage the major scientific, technological and societal issues addressed by these projects through an ambitious exhibition design. Opening out onto the Esplanade, this main campus meeting point intends to provide a new Agora open to all. Supported by Rolex, it will initially host two projects of international scope – an exhibition on the Human Brain Project, in which the watchmaking brand is also involved, and the Venice Time Machine. The support by Rolex for this space is an extension to that which it already provides via the Rolex Learning Center. According to Bertrand Gros, Chairman of the Board of Rolex SA, “The Rolex Learning Center offered a bold setting to the learning sciences. We now accompany the EPFL towards a new frontier of knowledge at a crossroads between technology, cultural heritage and society. We look forward to help make major science ventures of today and tomorrow accessible to a wide audience.”
A museum research and experimenting area will fill the second space at the centre of the development. Serving as a lab to experiment exhibition designs of the future, it will allow the many research projects in digital humanities to test museum innovations in situ. “Creating novel interactions between the visitors and exhibits, enriching the experience, fostering the historical and symbolic understanding of a work of art… Such are the objectives of this space aiming at making museums more accessible, easier to understand and closer to the visitors”, says Jean Claude Gandur, Chairman of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art (FGA). In addition to providing funding for this pavilion, the FGA will also contribute to developing its content by designing exhibition programmes in close cooperation with the EPFL, exhibiting artworks from its collections, and via research conducted in the framework of the newly announced Fondation Gandur pour l'Art Chair. Dedicated first and foremost to experimentation, the pavilion will be open to the public and form future partnerships with other institutions.
Finally, the Montreux Jazz Café at EPFL will occupy the southern part of the complex overlooking Lake Geneva. More than just a food hall, and thanks to the support of Audemars Piguet SA, the Café will also be a hub of experimentation dedicated to enhancement of the Montreux Jazz Festival audio-visual archives digitised by the EPFL, which include over 5,000 hours of recordings (part of the UNESCO Memory of the World register since 2013). The public will be given opportunities to discover these, in particular via immersive visualisation and navigation devices developed at EPFL. These digitisation and enhancement operations were performed in the framework of the Montreux Jazz Digital Project thanks to support by Audemars Piguet as well as other partners who joined the initiative – Logitech SA for developing the demonstrators, the Ernst Göhner Foundation, Amplidata, the Fondation Lombard Odier, Loterie Romande as well as private sponsors.