Content from the Montreux Jazz Festival makes up the world’s largest audiovisual archives of blues, jazz and rock recordings. Listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and having recently been digitized, our challenge was to bring these concerts back to life. Research conducted by the EPFL + ECAL Lab, in close collaboration with architectural unit ALICE, resulted in the creation of an immersive installation that aims to create its own unique experience rather than mimicking the past. The work that combines design, architecture and technology, is installed on the campus of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in a new building by Kengo Kuma. The experience is part of an on-going, practice-based, research project about digital installations in public spaces. It is thus characterized by very specific interaction languages where the simplicity and the emotionality of space play a fundamental role in the success of the experience.

The installation is designed to host up to 25 people at a time and is equipped with a multitouch monitor that allows visitors to select concerts. 3 usage scenarios were created.  Regular mode: open interface, free selection, uncrowded place.  Party mode: chronological selection by order of arrival. It is also possible to choose a song in the adjacent café.  VIP mode: reserved to demo the installation, skips songs in the enabled playlist, 3D sounds active. 
This experience, which welcomes the public in the Montreux Jazz Café at EPFL, includes almost all the archives, can accommodate twenty people and will give an unprecedented sense of immersion.
Our aim was to present the real, unchanged content and its cultural value. We used original footage, without editing, from the archives, bringing the raw sound and visuals to the fore


This work was the graduation project of Karian Foer for his Masters in Advanced Studies at the EPFL+ECAL Lab. I supervised him during the research phase and the beginning of the production phase. This browsing system helps to create an overall perception of the archive, its wealth and its content. It stands out from traditional search systems with its unique style. From the user tests, we observed that the benefit of this larger screen inside the installation space is that it involves multiple users at once.


The side walls are made of mirrors which reflect the central projection. Because of this, the space seems to expand and the concert grows. Iconic visuals are coupled with anecdotes reveal the festival’s history and unique identity. The central screen, designed by ALICE, has a simple yet sophisticated geometry which creates a stage and a sense of depth, but without causing fatigue or nausea. The physical texture of the screen is also key to its technical performance.


Designed by Kengo Kuma, the ArtLab at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne brings together the Montreux Jazz Café, an exhibition space and the DataSquare. These three sectors are open to the public, and represent the creative endeavors of this predominantly scientific university. Our immersive installation is located inside the Montreux Jazz Café.


Work developed at EPFL+ECAL Lab     EPFL+ECAL Lab:  Nicolas Henchoz Project Curator | Cédric Duchêne Project Manager, Senior Engineer | Tommaso Colombo Senior Designer Karian Foehr UI Designer | Delphine Ribes Senior Computer Scientist | Guillaume Bonnier Senior Computer Scientist | David Roulin Developer | Susanne Schneider Product Designer | ALICE EPFL Pr Dieter Dietz Architecture Curator | Rudi Nieveen Senior Research Architect | Manon Fantini Architect | Yannick Claessens Assistant | Javier Puchalt Assistant

Pictures : © EPFL+ECAL Lab © Joel Tettamanti © Adrien Barakat © EPFL