Miremont-le-Cret, Geneva

The Renovation of a City Landmark


Photo: ©yandre Prises de vues du 9 10 2015


The renovation of Miremont-le-Cret in 2012 was unusual in that the project was the subject of a competition. Designed in 1953 by a local architect, Marc-Joseph Saugey, this building had long been landmarked as one of Geneva’s most significant modern accomplishments. The building’s design is remarkable in how it fits into a somewhat narrow, elongated site, but solving the issue of monotony that could naturally arise, had the facades not consisted of a simple elevation with no protruding edges. Instead Saugey came up with the idea of a faceted treatment of the facade on both sides of the structure, thus eliminating any notion of boredom on the part of a casual visitor.


But all buildings need a facelift over time, and by 2011 it became apparent that it was time to renovate the structure. Due to the very nature of the building’s landmark status, a competition, won by local architect Philippe Meier, led to a process which was completed in 2016. The competition for the renovation dealt mainly with the facade. According to the winner, Philippe Meier, “the subject of the competition was the way to renovate the facades, (mainly concerning) materials, preservation of original substance, energy answers without changing the (main) aspects of the structure.” No changes were contemplated in “touching the design of the apartments.” In some cases, the owners of the apartments had made changes.

According to a statement by Philippe Meier, “An intervention such as this on a heritage building requires, above all, a knowledge of the building’s history. A successful restoration lies as much in the preparation of the detail as in the knowledge of the object to be restored. The act of ‘changing the skin’ of a building allows for new technologies to be introduced into it, while still respecting the original work. In this case, the technology pertains to the thermal system. Indeed, the Venice Charter states:
‘Where traditional techniques prove inadequate, the consolidation of a monument can be achieved by the use of any modern technique for conservation and construction, the efficacy of which has been shown by scientific data and proven by experience’.
The renovation project therefore captures the very fine details that were executed at the time, while taking into account new standards of energy and comfort. The intervention is intended to be minimal, in deference to the spirit of Saugey, as well as to maintain the building’s existing substance, wherever possible.”




Photos: ©Stanley Collyer  Street view (above); View to entrance (top)


We were allowed to view the interior of one of the flats which had not been altered, still with the original fixtures and furniture from the 1950s. The plan of the apartment at that time was rather unusual, as the main room was an open area design with the kitchen and main living area as a single open space.

Comparing recent photos of the building versus photos from its conception, it is clear that the Philippe Meier firm did a remarkable job in preserving the original intent of the Saugey design.


Images: Das Werk : Architektur und Kunst = L’oeuvre : architecture et art
Band (Jahr): 46 (1959), Heft 9: Wohnbauten – from ETH-Bibliothek Archiv (10.04.2019)



Prises de vues du 9 10 2015

Above photos: ©yandre