235-metre-long roof structure for the ArtLab in Lausanne
Builder: École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Architects: Kengo Kuma and Associates
Location: Place Cosandey, 1015 Lausanne (CH)
Designed by the Japanese architectural office Kengo Kuma and Associates, the ArtLab contains publicly-accessible exhibitions at the nexus of art and science. Separate parts of the building are given over to showings dedicated to big data, the fine arts and music, complete with a particular attraction in the form of the Montreux Jazz Festival Heritage Lab.
Kengo Kuma and Associates emerged as the winners in the ArtLab competition launched in 2012. The Tokyo trio interpreted the project's working title – "Under One Roof" – as programmatic for their design. Their long and narrow building, crowned with a slate-clad roof resting on a wooden substructure, traverses the campus on a north-south axis. Offering irregular sloping planes with a Deconstructivistic look, the building element mainly follows the topography and at one end swoops down to the ground to form a forecourt. The roof also covers apertures between the individual volumes, thus forming generously-sized passages that foster permeability as well as ensuring accessibility from the road to the heart of the campus.
Frames consisting of glued laminated timber embedded between partially perforated steel plates make up the load-bearing structure. Altogether 56 such frame structures are set at 3.80-metre intervals, standing out visibly from the wall and roof modules both on the inside and outside of the building. The construction of the individual frames varies due to the differing shapes of the roof and the changes in building width, which range from 6 to 16 metres. The wider the free spans, the thicker the perforated steel plates and the thinner the timber cores. A hybrid structure incorporating GLT and aluminium was proposed at the competition phase, but proved unsuitable due to fluctuations in material behaviour caused by climatic conditions such as high humidity. These challenges were met with the innovative construction method, with a combination of steel and wood and with adaptation of proportions. The rhythmic succession of the structural members lends congruity to the appearance of the building, not least because the intermediate roof and facade modules are standardised in size.