Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne
The location of the university on the north shore of Lake Geneva, with a backdrop of glacier-covered mountains exceeding the 4000 m mark, is unparalleled. The new heart of the campus is also one-of-a-kind: a porous rectangle undulating like the hills in the surrounding moraine landscape is perforated by fourteen rounded patios. The Learning Center unites a wide variety of functions on the main level in order to foster trans-disciplinary exchange of ideas among the scientists and attract top international researchers. With its unconventional concept and the organic formal language, the explorable sculpture embodies the university’s mottos and becomes its logo for transparency, interconnectedness and innovation within an ordered framework. The centre is a micro-campus within a campus. A library, workspaces, offices, cafes, a restaurant, a bookshop, a bank branch and a multi-functional auditorium are all located in an open space almost completely devoid of partition walls, doors or corridors. These spaces, of course, have nothing in common with much-maligned open-plan office layouts. Views open up in all directions: into, out of, and through the space, which widens and narrows, but above all, whose undulating floor is sloped as much as 30° and is typically followed by the contoured ceiling. From the subterranean parking garage, visitors to the building pop up, via a glazed lift, into the space: three platforms were developed for this building’s inclined lift and connect all of the different levels and areas. Flat plateaus facilitate seating where the floor slab is sloped. The curved built-in units placed in the space are either open (and veiled in metal mesh to control accessibility), acoustically separated with transparent panes of glass, or enclosed by plasterboard walls. An outdoor space accommodates seating for the café and activities in the cave-like area below the concrete shells. The floor is level here, the change from light to dark and from high to low even more pronounced than inside the building. Although the roof may appear to be a concrete slab, it was constructed of steel and timber beams.