Watchmaking, architecture, and nature are celebrated at Hôtel des Horlogers which zigzags through the Vallée de Joux town just outside of Geneva. The 8,700 m2 hotel marks the second collaboration between BIG and luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet following the opening of the neighboring Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet in 2020. 

The Hôtel des Horlogers builds on the history of the Hôtel de France, established in Le Brassus in 1857 by members of the Audemars Piguet family. The hotel became an important stop on the Chemin des Horlogers – the watchmaking route that connected the Vallée de Joux workshops to Geneva, where timepieces were sold by retailers. Audemars Piguet hired BIG to design a new hotel in line with the luxury brand’s values and sustainability mission. 

The zigzagging slabs gradually descend towards the valley, tilting slightly to embrace the site and create a visual path between nature and architecture. While the Audemars Piguet museum located just steps away defines a visitor experience inspired by the centripetal and centrifugal forces of time through the spiral form, the hotel welcomes its guests into the ‘time’ journey by reimagining the historic winding watchmakers’ trail that the region is known for.  

Guided to the hotel entrance from the main access road, guests approach the hotel through a generous driveway. From this entrance, the hotel appears as a single slab, with the four additional floors tucked into the landscape below. Defined by timber and concrete, the exterior entrance introduces the materiality of the hotel-at-large – authentic, pared-back materials that complement the natural landscape enveloping the building. 

The system of interwoven wood louvers inspired by the log cabin overlay aesthetic provides shading for the façade, enhancing the building’s energy performance. The shading system is fully integrated with the stepping geometry of the wooden slabs, keeping the transparency from the main access road to the valley, and re-establishing the connection between the village and the pastoral landscape. 

The hotel’s interior design scheme, led by AU*M, draws inspiration from the architecture’s indoor/outdoor vernacular – created through the architecture’s tilting slabs that provide the interior spaces with framed views of the surrounding valley. As guests transition from the main entrance into the reception area, the visual language becomes more sinuous and rustic, with materials such as glass, concrete, stone, and wood blurring the delineation of the constructed and the natural.  

One level below the entry, a spa, conference center, and two restaurants are orientated towards the valley – providing sweeping views and natural light while also acting as individual destinations along the continuous interior path. Giving pride of place to gastronomy, the Hôtel des Horlogers’ restaurants are overseen by three-Michelin-starred French Chef, Emmanuel Renaut.

On the interior, the building’s five slab-layout forms a single, continuous ramping corridor – connecting the interior programs and facilitating both guest and service circulation. This layout also provides all guestrooms with views of the surrounding Risoud Forest.  

Certified Minergie-ECO, a label for new and refurbished low-energy consumption buildings, the hotel addresses the local ecological and social sustainability requirements to reduce its environmental impact – from the building’s design and construction to its day-to-day operations. Similarly, the hotel is equipped with 86 photovoltaic panels that provide part of the building’s energy needs. 

source: BIG