Allied Works, the bicoastal studio of rising archi-star Brad Cloepfil, has sent us images of its lovely proposal for a new Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne. Conceived of for an international design competition, the building appears, in renderings, like a giant piece of driftwood slashed up by the sea.
That’s to say that it doesn’t look like anything else in the city, which is small, old, and architecturally not terribly adventurous (with some notable exceptions). That might also help explain why Allied Works lost the contest to Estudio Barozzi Veiga, a Barcelona firm that proposed an elegant, if fairly conservative, monolithic gray block. (Other finalists included international heavyweights Kengo Kuma; 2011 Pritzker Prize-winner Eduardo Souto de Moura; and Bernard Tschumi, who was born in Lausanne.)
What we like best about Allied Works’s concept is that it would’ve thrown snippets of natural light into galleries — parts of the museum that generally don’t see any natural light at all. (This is to protect fragile artifacts from harmful sun exposure.) But Allied Works’s design would’ve included “fissures of transparency,” to quote the press release, that filter and diffuse natural light indoors, without damaging the objects on display. This is a Cloepfil signature. His design for the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan features expertly placed slits in the gallery walls as does his forthcoming Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.