The construction industry is often seen as a barometer for the health of the economy in general, in which case Audemars Piguet is doing very well indeed. For the past decade, the brand which is headquartered in Le Brassus, in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, has invested hundreds of millions in a series of building projects that began with the Musée Atelier. The project was launched in 2012, the first stone laid in 2017 and the museum opened to visitors three years later.
The second building to rise from the ground is Hôtel des Horlogers, another striking construction that stands adjacent to the headquarters. Both the museum and the hotel are, says Audemars Piguet, representative of “the brand’s dedication to innovative architectures that are integrated into and respectful of their environment.” So why stop there? After developing infrastructures that welcome the public, and contribute to the all-important customer experience, the manufacturing facilities were next in line to benefit from an equally ambitious construction programme.
The newly inaugurated Manufacture des Saignoles in Le Locle is home to the production workshops of what was Renaud et Papi, a specialist unit making complication mechanisms and employing 190 people. Construction work began in 2018 and was completed in spring this year. The new site, which extends over 10,400 square metres, comprises a single-storey building on split levels which are adapted to the topography and designed to facilitate workflow. Audemars Piguet notes how “the new building seamlessly integrates the relief of the valley and draws inspiration from the surrounding meadows, boglands and forests. It combines employees’ well-being and comfort, while giving prominence to natural light and new technologies.” The design is the work of Swiss architectural practice Kuník de Morsier with input from Marilyne Andersen, a professor of Sustainable Construction Techniques at EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
And this is just part of the brand’s expanding facilities. This spring saw the stone laying ceremony, in Le Brassus, for the Arc. The work of De Giuli & Portier Architectes, the new building will cover 17,000 square metres over three floors plus a basement for technical installations and equipment. It will connect to the existing Manufacture des Forges so that, when completed in 2025, all the brand’s production sites in Vallée de Joux will be under the same roof. Both Manufacture des Saignoles and the Arc incorporate environmental criteria: “Rooted in Audemars Piguet’s sustainability approach, these two forward-thinking buildings fulfil the requirements of the Minergie® certification (Minergie-ECO® for the Arc) in terms of low environmental impact and modular internal architecture.”
At Manufacture des Saignoles, fossil-fuel heating systems are replaced by two wood pellet furnaces and a heat pump. There is also a temperature regulation system. Three hundred photovoltaic panels on the roof have a generating capacity of 80kW. The Arc is similarly engineered to reduce its carbon footprint. The building, which is connected to an off-site, fossil-free, wood-based heating system, is also equipped with photovoltaic panels. “The project has been developed from an ecological standpoint and incorporates a carefully-designed partial land use plan. A green roof will recreate an ideal biotope for insects and birds, while offering a panoramic view from the Marchairuz pass in harmony with the Vallée de Joux’s meadows.” The project makes maximum use of renewable construction materials in line with Minergie-ECO® requirements, which include additional health and ecological criteria. In a word, Audemars Piguet is laying the foundations for what looks like a bright future.