Rolex Learning Centre by SANAA


Photographer Julien Lanoo has sent us his series of the Rolex Learning Centre in Switzerland, designed by Japanese architects SANAA. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

The centre opened in February and is located on the campus of science and technology university EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).

More information about the building in our earlier story.

See also:

SANAA win Pritzker Prize
Selected projects by SANAA
All our stories about SANAA

See also:


More about
this project
All our stories
about SANAA
More photography

Dezeen Book of Ideas out now!

Rolex Learning Centre by SANAA is included in our book, Dezeen Book of Ideas. Buy it now for just £12.

Posted on Saturday May 8th 2010 at 12:31 am by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tetas

    what need to be add….

  • OB

    Wonderfull! Concept-to-materiality!

    I see that fatboys are the only seating possible in these (huge) empty spaces… Did SANAA also invent auto-levelling tables?

    The swiss-cheese-slice-waiting-on-the-counter-to-get-in-a-subway-meatballs-tex-mex-sandwich aesthetic is sucessfully rendered here.

    Two thumbs up for two japanese architects!

  • OB

    Je dirais même plus: les seules personnes présentes sur les images ont un air catatonique devant autant d’espace vide où ils ne pourront pas jouer aux billes entre les classes… Dommage.

    Tristesse et solitude pour les amateurs de billes. (un est visible avec son sac de billes dans les mains.) Triste.

  • phut

    one word. “awesome”

  • Galaxian

    For me, it seem to be the worst project of SANA, long empty spaces, strange small ramp-stairway in the middle… What about inapproachable space on the ground under the building? From a distance it is looking more better.

  • bo

    don’t drop your pencil.

  • jamiego

    I would like to know the purpose for the vast areas of sloping floor space? They cannot accommodate sitting or furniture, they are unpleasant and disorienting to walk on, never mind navigate a wheelchair over. Oh, it’s an interesting and ground-breaking new form you say? Riiight…

  • so so so neat… i wonder anyone works/studies there… no worktops….
    it will be fun to roll from one space to another….
    Clean design and detailing. as always with SANAA!!

  • Markus P

    I Like the design of the building, but I’d go nuts walking ramps the whole day

  • piemfo

    clap clap clap


    great fotos!

  • Hamid

    a real masterpiece!
    one of the best buildings in the world!

  • Slightly fantastic. It makes me think i have to unlearn what i know about architecture. i wish, though, the underside of the building were less pristine, and more grotto like. The architects went through some effort to make the building appear as if coming from, or independent from, the ground, and it would have been more interesting if some acknowledgement of “earth” were made.

  • san

    grat building indeed…still I wonder if it wouldn´t be even better with the two planes not being parallel, thus allowing for a bigger diversity in the interior

  • bibo architect

    I wish there are some plans and sections.. I really like to see how those sloped spaces function.

  • arun

    nice work….
    the feel of the space will be awesome !

  • max habib

    Even I could learn here.

  • CAT

    Why is this good for the human experience?

  • AD NY

    awesome building! But at the same time I wonder how sustainable this building is? It looks like that the architects were given total freedom as long as building looks awesome.

  • good for sketchboard

  • mohamad makouk

    this is architecture, when it is human…

  • george String

    full coverage in AR may * .

  • archsylc

    The best SANAA project.

  • catinthebag

    You don’t want to drop any stationery when studying there…

  • Bozo

    The undercroft looks like it would be good for junkies. Lots of negatives to overlook in liking this building.

  • junihaoni

    the infinity-like space makes walking from one point to another seem forever. But nevertheless what a breakthrough! MORE COLOURS SANAA. stop building hospitals or psycho-cells.

  • Joseph

    This must be a nightmare for the handicap.

  • rdeamer

    Skaters day once a month, please!!

  • popi vaki

    its like a bar of chocolate (with filling) YUMMIE

  • k

    one day we will find a new way, and we will look back critizing the lack of humanity; until that times comes, … wow, such a beautiful building.

  • Andreas

    Ramps look very similar to OFIS stadium.
    Their concept has more sense that this one. Anyway looks good.

  • Richie

    It’s beautiful, but.. I’d love to know how it’s supposed to function, it all looks like huge swathes of circulation space at the moment. Do they just set up their classes, slideshows or whatever in the middle of the floor and drop some bean bags down? What is the reason behind all the sloping floors?

  • umhmmm oooo, James Bond villains pad for sure!

  • jimmy

    Rip out the carpet and glazzing, then wait 2 years for it to become the most expensive graffiti covered skate park the world has ever seen. It already has that post soviet era concrete austerity we really appreciate.

  • Matthias

    Great triumph of Architecture.
    Over everything else.

  • amazing how a concrete building looks so light as if it’s floating…

  • christian

    Much as Like the buildings concept the internal ramps look so dangerous for anyone with a foot injury.
    I would of liked the building to float on water rather than just gravel.

  • PETE

    Perfect solution:
    The client is Rolex… It doesn’t need to be efficient, it just needs to be a flashy symbol.

  • starchitect-dom clouding sanaa’s rationality (not that modernism was ever “rational”)

  • Finn

    i really feel like the project could be elevated if the landscaping underneath was laden with life and colour (mostly green) thn it would seem like a sexy villa savoi

  • Finn

    p.s wheel chair users?

  • wakkio

    great! love they manage to build this! congrats sanaa

  • ale gaddor

    WRONG PROGRAM,,, it’s the best skatepark ever and is ruined by the wrong program!!!! no joke,,, it’s the only thing you can “learn” in this building,,,, and watch an skater cry.

  • yrag

    The building is gorgeous, however women in high heels and those in wheel chairs might have another opinion.

    Also I agree with others that the space underneath is crying out for a shaded garden, a rock garden, seating — something please.

  • great work. SAANA deserves the Pitzker Prize

  • rouan

    Honestly…why is this good? A whole lof of nothing if you ask me. Terrible spaces to move around in, generally resulting in a whole lot of “nothing” spaces. Apparently Rolex doesnt pay per square metre like the rest of us.

  • Eider

    I went there a few months ago,and really like the space inside.It’s amazing to test your concept of learning(not the ordinary way of sitting on a desk and write note).
    But it’s quite easy to get lost due to the fluid of space,and I guess not everybody will sit in the middle of ramp and read, it’s just too open.
    Also the purity of space made me feel I was inside an Aquarium:p

  • architect

    nice space for rollerblading……….

  • r85

    useless, this is space design for the sake of a neat photo. architects, please don't be so arrogant as to think this approach to design is in any way acceptable. to create an empty space of useless ramps so that you can have a 'cool' photo is the cause of many of the issues in modern design. the grey carpet also makes it feel very pedestrian, there's no life, not imagination, no idea of how to achieve anything but gimmick!

  • The best SANAA project.