This Building Houses Two Museums For Photography and Art - BluPrint

One Museum, Two Museums: This Sculptural Building Houses Two Museums Dedicated For Photography and Art

July 19, 2022



Rick Formalejo

Museums are home to different forms of arts. It makes sense that the architecture of many contemporary museums today have become pieces of art themselves. Aires Mateus, a Portuguese architecture firm, has recently completed the mudac: Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne, Switzerland after five years of construction. It is located in the new PLATEFORME 10 art district which opened its doors to the public on June 18, 2022.

The building is part of a new cultural district and urban regeneration plan by the Canton of Vaud, the City of Lausanne, and the CFF (Swiss Federal Railways). It features three art museums that represent the memory of the site, echoing its former industrial status with prismatic geometric forms, concrete surfaces, and sharp lines. 

The design of the new district aims to transform the Swiss city into a dynamic center of cultural innovation. The interior and exterior spaces feature a design heavily defined by how light travels through the building. Looking from the outside, the facade takes the form of two geometric concrete units. These are joined by a glass strip or ribbon of light. Inside, this glass strip, together with strategically-placed skylights gives visitors the illusion of being outside. 

The building uses overlooked spaces alongside the railway platforms. These become new venues for the city’s museum institutions. Mateus’ design brings two unique museums and their programs together in a single building. This concept dubs the building “One Museum, Two Museums.” The design team of the project characterized the building as a “box” for photography and a “box” for design. The two boxes are united by a common gathering space, which is an extension of the public space of the railway’s Platform 10.

One of the museums in the building is the Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts (MUDAC) on the first floor. Its functions need an abundance of light. The other museum is the Musée de l’Elysée dedicated to photography. Unlike the former, the light in this area has to be under strict control. Public and private facilities, meanwhile, occupy the space between both museums. 

Photo by Paul Clemence