Rolex Learning Center by SANAA


The Rolex Learning Center, a university study centre by Japanese architects SANAA, opens in Lausanne, Switzerland next week.

The centre is located on the campus of science and technology university EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), and will be open to both students and the public.

See all our stories about SANAA in our special category.

Here's some text from EPFL:


Built on the campus of EPFL Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, The Rolex Learning Center designed by the internationally acclaimed Japanese architectural practice, SANAA, will open on 22 February 2010.

The Rolex Learning Center will function as a laboratory for learning, a library with 500,000 volumes and an international cultural hub for EPFL, open to both students and the public. Spread over one single fluid space of 20,000 sq metres, it provides a seamless network of services, libraries, information gathering, social spaces, spaces to study, restaurants, cafes and beautiful outdoor spaces. It is a highly innovative building, with gentle slopes and terraces, undulating around a series of internal ‘patios’, with almost invisible supports for its complex curving roof, which required completely new methods of construction.

“The Rolex Learning Center,” Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL, said, “exemplifies our university as a place where traditional boundaries between disciplines are broken down, where mathematicians and engineers meet with neuroscientists and microtechnicians to envision new technologies that improve lives. We invite the public into this space to convey the message that working in science is working for the advancement of society.”

EPFL is one of the world’s leading universities in technology and science, renowned for its innovations in research and learning. It is currently ranked number one in Europe alongside Cambridge in the fields of Engineering Technology and Computer Sciences. The campus, on a site overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps, brings together over 4,000 researchers, and 7,000 students, who work in a highly collaborative environment with international experts in engineering, science and industry.

The Rolex Learning Center has been financed by the Swiss government and major Swiss businesses. Rolex’s participation in the project is the fruit of a long-standing relationship with EPFL in research into materials science and microtechnology for watch design, and its deep rooted tradition of philanthropy in the arts, science and culture through the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.  Logitech made the initial contribution that launched the architectural competition. Losinger, member of Bouygues Construction Group and sponsor, was the principle contractor for the building. Credit Suisse, another financial partner for the project, will have a Future Banking Laboratory in the building. Further internationally active Swiss partners who contributed to the finance, research, and innovation of the building are Nestlé, Novartis, and SICPA.

Posted on Wednesday February 17th 2010 at 11:13 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy



  • The best project in years and perhaps the best synthesis of modern architecture. The XXI century has its first masters.

  • Tea

    @ mvb:

    Why limit yourself with function? Modern society is not so “boxed” as it used to be. Comunications are free, open, learning has become a process that does not necessary require a desk, chair, lamp and closed room…

    Determined function of a certain space is restrictive and it dictates the usage of a space and with it the needs of a user (as for example in 60’s and 70’s of the 19th century in eastern Europe). In my point of view we should at all cost avoid this kind of limitations. We as architects are here to provide space, form that crates a certain mood and it’s up to the user what he want’s to do with it.

  • jean grey


  • Tea

    wps…I ment 20th century :)

  • Fizz

    This is beyond question a seriously good building. For once, an example of architecture enhancing humanity.

  • BKK

    make me think of 2012. Then people live on the express way or under it. Nice shot.

  • Irena

    I have seen this building first hand as it’s in my neighborhood. It looks great, especially in the evening with lights on, it brings a dynamics and modernity to this campus and blends into lake surroundings very nicely. I am happy that it was built, not very often projects like this get funding and get completed.

  • Miguel

    plans? sections? diagrams? arguments? What is this, architecture for dummies?

  • Nicky

    Ingenious! SANAA actually managed to make a geometric cuboid look organic.Rectangular from above, but curvaceous and fluid to passerbys and inhabitants.

  • Jing

    fantastic for roller skaters!!

  • Low ceilings and an unpractical looking space…. really not my cup of tea!

  • QQ0430