The Architecture of Swiss Cheese: Rolex Learning Centre by SANAA

The Rolex Learning Centre (“EPFL Learning Centre”), designed by the winners of 2010 Pritzker Prize, Japanese-duo SANAA, is a university hub and study center in Lausanne, Switzerland. The space, which opened in 2012 to both students and the public, houses a library, student work spaces, offices, a restaurant, and a café spread out over 215,000 square feet on one open, rolling level. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to a slice of Swiss cheese, its rectangular form is punctuated by a dozen or so variously-sized holes, or patios. The patios bring daylight to all areas of the building, and the larger ones serve as entrances where their sloping forms touch the ground. Notably, the concrete—in some areas almost 3 feet thick—was poured over a precise formwork of sloping geometries created from 1,400 individual molds.