Kengo Kuma and Associates, Tokyo (JP)

The project combines three distinct spaces under a large sloping roof: one area for exhibitions, another one for artistic research and technical experiments and a café. The building follows the slope of the field, adapting its form and its protective roof. The roof line reminds old construction methods used in the Alps. Upstream, the roof is anchored in a single point of contact with the ground, making it very expressive. The large roof also protects pedestrians. It transforms a dysfunctional void into a public space and becomes a meeting point between art and science. To protect its view on the lake from the existing esplanade, a central space for students and visitors of EPFL, the building remains very thin at its northern end – 5 m – and its section widens up to 16 m at its southern end.

The hybrid structure was developed for the 57 porticos of the building, combining steel and wood. It is composed of a central glulam component contained in two frames made of perforated steel. The two frames are tied together using glue and metal rods welded on steel plates. Using wood in this pavilion promotes innovation and takes up a structural challenge. The Artlab building offers a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional buildings, linking historical construction methods to innovation and culture.


Client: Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, EPFL

Lead Architect: Kengo Kuma and Associates, Tokyo, Japan

Local Architect: CCHE Architecture et Design; Holzer Kobler Architekturen GmbH

Structural design: INGPHI SA

Main contractor: Marti Construction SA

Wood construction: JPF-Ducret SA (timber frames); Mivelaz Bois SA, Le Mouret (facade cladding)

Wooden components: Glue laminated wood (frames), OSB and LVL-Q panels (roof)

Area and lenght: 4500 m2, 235 m

Construction system: Hybrid, steel and wood

Wood species: Spruce

Purpose: Spaces for exhibition, artistic research and experimentation, café

Certification: Native wood and FSC wood

Year completed: 2016


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