- International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum - http://www.redcrossmuseum.ch/en -

History and architecture

Key dates



An archaeology of the existent: the common spaces project

atelier oï was given the task of coordinating the general master plan for the construction of the new Museum and the work of the three scenographers entrusted with the design of the permanent exhibition. It also designed the common spaces, such as the reception, shop and circulation areas.

In tackling the layout concept for the common spaces, we began by taking stock of the museum’s context and its existing architecture, much like an archaeologist whose primary aim is to try to understand and interpret what he finds. In that sense, we could not eclipse the presence or strength of the work of the architect Pierre Zoelly from the 1980s. Our approach was therefore to seek to establish a dialogue with the existent rather than to attempt to break with it. We had to find a way of signalling a new stage in the Museum’s development while, at the same time, drawing on past history.

Working with the material
Before reflecting on an appropriate form or composition, we first looked for a material that would be able to dialogue with the concrete that is an omnipresent feature of the museum’s existing architecture. To contrast with the mineral packaging, we chose solid wood as the only substance that would be the leitmotif in our work, unfurling like a ribbon as visitors move along their chosen routes. In the curved architecture devoid of right angles, the wood becomes a living material in alliance with the stone; the material plays and blends with what was already in place and with the surroundings and has been used in some scenographies much as the hempcrete and cardboard tubes. So as to adapt this interplay to the programmes and the needs, by making wavy cuts in strips of solid wood we created a tool that enabled us to make the different partitions and movable items needed in the layout of the common spaces. Thus, by slightly offsetting the strips, the degree of transparency and opacity of the partitions could be varied, accompanying visitors in slightly different ways as they move through the Museum.
We decided to use a poured floor, the idea being for it to tie in with the concept of flexible routing, and to use a red earth colour so that it would blend chromatically with the wood in our design and with the range of materials that are the main feature of the different scenographies,