For the love of film: EM2N transform the Cinematheque Suisse

For the love of film: EM2N transform the Cinematheque Suisse

When the Cinematheque Suisse in Penthaz kicked started its transformation process almost ten years ago, its home was no more than a collection of very simple and utilitarian buildings that urgently needed architectural updating, as well as extra space to cover the institution’s growing needs. Enter Zurich-based architects EM2N, who took on the commission to breathe new life to the film archive complex.

Now, the redesign and expansion works for Switzerland’s national film archives have just been completed and EM2N have revealed the first photos of their oeuvre. By demolishing much of the existing buildings - which were deemed unfit for purpose - the architects unified the complex by keeping the general footprint of the old structures, adding extra space and connecting everything under a single roof. 

The new shell, made of warm, ceramic-coloured rusted steel, is matched by an also new concrete structure. Its simple, almost bunker-like feel, is in keeping with the pared-down and functional overall feel of the complex. ’Penthaz II is a kind of super-functional bunker that ensures the optimum protection of the culturally valuable artifacts’, say the architects, who wanted the structure to reference ’an industrial production facility, or film studios’. 

The revamped program, spanning some 13,100 sq m, now includes staff offices, conference rooms, further space for workshops, an auditorium, a generous foyer, a cinema and a library, as well as the institution’s precious archive collection.  

The low slung, linear structure remains elegantly unobtrusive to the surrounding landscape. Sloping, planted roofs also work to that effect, helping the angular structure blend seamlessly with the nature around it.  

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