SANAA Rolex Learning Centre

The centre of much architectural press lately has been given recently to SANAA’s recently completed Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne. Looking at this project one can help but make a comparison to their contribution to London’s Hyde Park this summer with their Serpentine Pavilion and how some of the traits of the floating structure are reflected further in this project.

The undulations of this piece reflect those of the Alps nearby, treating this large complex of 7,000 students, 4,000 academic staff fully equipped with a library, offices, bookshop, cafe, restaurant, laboratories, a 600-seat auditorium and a branch of Credit Suisse bank as “one big room”.

This treatment of one large space takes a stand point against an architecture being prescriptive, suggesting that rooms are for learning and that corridors hold some social value for students out of class. Instead there is a type of suggestive aura from this complex whereby students may be able to find and accommodate a space of their own, whether it be a corridor, classroom or cafe.

With the Serpentine Pavilion, this recent masterpiece and an invitation to direct the Venice Architecture Biennial, SANAA have recently been branded as joining those at the forefront of modern architecture with Zaha, Rem and Gehry. All of this leaves much to suggest that we have contender for the Pritzker Prize 2010 to follow the recent winner Peter Zumthor. Yet, all of this is to be done without he proclamation of a manifesto or the declaration of an oeuvre. The only common denominator in their work exists in the choice of materials; white metal, concrete and glass, but this is hardly to specific to any architect!

What can we expect from the SANAA when the next is so different to their last?

JS

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