Aires Mateus’ Light-Sculpted Arts and Photography Museum in Lausanne Captured by Paul Clemence

Aires Mateus, a Portuguese architecture firm, has finished its long-awaited mudac, a museum of contemporary design and applied arts in Lausanne (Switzerland), after five years of work. The Canton of Vaud, City of Lausanne and the CFF (Swiss Federal Railways) have created a new cultural district that promotes urban regeneration. It features three art museums that interpret the site’s past industrial status, with their prismatic geometric forms and concrete surfaces and sharp lines.

Paul Clemence, an architectural photographer, captured the museum’s newly opened doors during his latest esplanade visit to Switzerland. He highlighted its unique concrete geometry and play of shadows and light and showed how it complements the surroundings.

Aires Mateus' Light-Sculpted Arts and Photography Museum in Lausanne Captured by Paul Clemence - Image 34 of 42
© Paul Clemence
Aires Mateus' Light-Sculpted Arts and Photography Museum in Lausanne Captured by Paul Clemence - Image 32 of 42
© Paul Clemence

The new district, a unique concept in Switzerland is intended to transform Zurich into a vibrant center for cultural innovation. Both the exterior and interior spaces were heavily influenced by the light that passes through the architecture. The facade looks like two concrete units joined by a light strip or ribbon. This glass strip and strategically placed skylights create the illusion that visitors are outside.

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© Paul Clemence
Aires Mateus' Light-Sculpted Arts and Photography Museum in Lausanne Captured by Paul Clemence - Image 18 of 42
© Paul Clemence

This project transforms the spaces between the railway platforms into new venues for city’s museums institutions. Aires Mateus’ design, which is also known as “One Museum, Two Museums”, combines two museums and their programs into one building. The project is described by the design team as both a “box for photography” and “box for design”, united by a common gathering area that extends the Platform 10 public space.

Placed around a large public space, the new geometric building features two museums: the Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts (MUDAC) on the first floor, whose functions need an abundance of light, and the photography-dedicated Musee de l’Elysee, in which light has to be under strict control. As a natural extension to the public esplanade, the space between the two museums houses both public and private facilities.

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© Paul Clemence
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© Paul Clemence
Aires Mateus' Light-Sculpted Arts and Photography Museum in Lausanne Captured by Paul Clemence - Image 38 of 42
© Paul Clemence

The new district now has the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (mudac). They are located alongside the Musee cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne.