The House of Culture and Digital Innovation is unveiled

The House of Culture and Digital Innovation will occupy the Maison Gaudard on the forecourt of the cathedral in Lausanne. This new structure, which wants to devote itself to the digital transition while remaining open to the public, revealed its contours on Friday.

A laboratory dedicated to culture and digital participation will open its doors there. Its function will be ‘both a breeding ground for digital mediation, a platform for network resources in the digital sector, a digital educational tool and an observatory for digital cultures’, states the city of Lausanne in its application for a job credit.

The house will also have a “resource center for the cultural scene” with the entry of the walls of the Cultural Office of Vaud, which in particular rents technical equipment at affordable prices. It will also provide permanent offices to six Lausanne festivals, namely the Festival de la Cité, Label Suisse, the Lausanne Garden Parties, the Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (LUFF), the Fête du Slip and the Fête de la Musique.

The public will be able to continue to visit the Maison Gaudard as the new structure will have a ‘multi-purpose space’ including exhibitions, installations and conferences. They are also welcome in the ‘cultural café’, which, in addition to drinks, will also offer the opportunity to consult specialized works.

Digitization needed

“This is an intentional hybrid project,” Lausanne trustee Grégoire Junod told the press and project stakeholders on Friday. “There is an extremely important creativity in the digital domain that is little recognized by the government,” he added.

Still, it’s appropriate to take an interest in it, because according to socialist figures, the cultural economy and the creative economy generate 5 to 7% of jobs in Switzerland. “Digital culture is in a sense the missing link in the cultural economy,” he said.

“The digitization of culture has increased with the pandemic,” noted Michael Kinzer, head of the city’s Culture Department. ‘Although digital art has been around for a long time, the potential for culture and science is enormous.’

In addition, the canton excels in the field of cultural digitization at the level of the University of Lausanne and EPFL, but also in the creative industry, such as Creal, a start-up active in augmented reality, continues Michael Kinzer. ‘The House of Culture and Digital Innovation wants to be a platform where these actors can meet’, he says.

Ambitious and vague

More concretely, as indicated in the book credit application, the laboratory dedicated to culture and digital participation could offer a “digital exhibition space” aimed at a young audience and highlighting the city’s heritage collections. It can also provide tutorials for setting up digital projects, support in using digital tools or participatory research residencies.

The creation of the digital laboratory is the subject of a collaboration with the Fabulerie in Marseille, a ‘digital factory and third cultural place that aims to make knowledge accessible to as many people as possible’. The University of Lausanne will become a permanent partner of the new Lausanne structure.

‘It’s a new place whose future we don’t know. We want flexibility so that this project can evolve,” says Michael Kinzer. The terminology has yet to be defined and the name “House of Culture and Digital Innovation” could well change, he said.

The new residents of the Maison Gaudard are expected in the spring of 2023. By then, the Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Art (mudac) that is now located there should complete its move to the Platform 10 art district, while the interior renovation work is worth of 890,000 francs to be carried out.


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