Lausanne’s museum centre is ambitious to become a destination on an urban, regional and even international scale, opening itself up to the city, realigning routes and integrating the urban flux. For the site to become a public lieu that exhibits art as much as the city and its people, it is important to reach beyond the traditional definition of ‘museum’ - a place to collect, research, preserve and display works of art. Primarily, the project and its principles attempt to create a destination in town, with the town. The competition is the first phase of development of a cultural pole. We propose to structure the long process ahead around four principles:
Reusing the Platform: The featured site, as a whole, represents the history of the area: a train depot and workshop used for more than 100 years. The biggest part of the long and narrow site is a flat platform of infrastructure, excavated from the hill. We consider it crucial not to endorse the listed building’s symmetry, but above all to utilize the potential and power generated by the serial and horizontal organization of the site. The floor of the museum and the floor of the square in front of the main railway station are on the same level, making the link between both evident and direct.
Triple flux: Our proposition is based on organizational principles for the entirety of the site. It will be structured upon clear vectors and fluxes, an integral dimension to any urban place. We propose that the museum centre is constructed around three fluxes: the public route, a crossroad of paths and public spaces through the site, integrating the museum centre in day-to-day life; the flux of visitors, an enfilade through all the buildings of the centre; and, the logistic flux of art work and organisation of the ‘back of house’. A public square marks where these fluxes touch. Here, in this linear site, the town and the museum centre join in diverse and intense ways.
Collective buildings: Programmatically and architecturally, we divide the site into a collection of buildings affirming its urbanity and allowing for future development. Each building functions both independently and as part of a series: conscious of their role as a whole and optimising their sense of individuality. The master plan is not a straightjacket, but an environment of dialogue where neither size nor form is predefined. In this diverse body, each programmatic entity can find its place and cultivate its purpose.
Urban Enfilade: In the brief, the museography of the spaces is largely characterised by two complimentary types of exhibition: cabinet exhibitions (Art Box) and open space exhibitions (Art House), accommodating the diversity of the MCBA’s collection. The oversized public route through the museum centre adds a third, more ambiguous and ambitious exhibition space: an urban enfilade which maximizes the interaction and positive friction between art and public.
Overall, this serial museum set-up offers users a characteristic but open space; a clearly organised place that permits freedom of use and stimulates ownership.