Saturday, October 19, 2013


Lausanne is stunning. It's a town on the banks of Lake Geneva and is surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains. You walk down the street and just stare into the face of mountains wearing clouds as hats. It's surreal and beautiful and makes me feel like I'm in a fairy tale.

But no matter how beautiful it is, Lausanne does not have much in the way of impressive modern architecture. We visited two buildings on Friday, an art school building by Bernard Tschumi and the Rolex Learning Center by SANAA, a Japanese firm.

The facade of the Tschumi building and an elevation of the SANAA building

The art school was very cool. Their studio spaces were very similar to our own studios back in Blacksburg, and all of us got a little homesick. The building is saturated with primary colors too, which I found interesting. It's an arts college, and the primary colors made it feel almost like a kindergarten in parts. The building was large and spacious though, a great place for design.

The first year studio space


The back courtyard

The Rolex Learning Center was incredible. We've studied the building before in school, but no amount of photos can really prepare you for experiencing a building in person. The center is a rectangular building with circular voids cut out of it (like cutting biscuits out of dough). The greatest part though is that the entire building undulates. It only touches the ground in a few parts. The floor inside moves up and down in waves, and the entire building feels like a slide and a mountain.

A model of the plan of the building. I love how the metal undulates!

The outside space, under the building. You actually enter the building by walking under it and to the first "patio" (or hole in the swiss cheese building)

And the crazy topography inside

We had one of the contractors for the project give us a tour of the building. He talked to us about the construction, the design issues they ran into, and all sorts of things. Apparently, SANAA ran into a lot of trouble with the European version of the ADA and making the building handicap accessible. There's always a line between sticking to your design intent and making a usable building for everyone.

One of the handicap ramps down the slope, and the lines on the floor for blind visitors

The library space is at the top of the hill. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS BUILDING HAS HILLS IN IT

But I thought the building was great. And I loved how the students used all the spaces of the building. They inhabited the flat parts as much as the sloped parts. There were bean bag chairs everywhere that students would turn into seats or lounge chairs or beds. We saw students studying, napping, talking, everything. It was so exciting to see how they took advantage of the building they were in.


On Saturday morning, Mario took us all into the center of town and let us go for the day with instructions to come home by 6 pm. I walked around town by myself in the morning, wandering through streets and up hills and stuff. I really enjoyed it, I liked just walking and looking.

Concrete seats in the warehouse district

Another bubble building!

An artsy pavillion

Saturday morning means market time! Most of the plazas and pedestrian streets downtown were full of vendors. And apparently, in the one plaza I didn't go into, there was a craft beer stall! Oh well, I have enough beer in my carry on suitcase to last me a while...

A covered staircase

Around 11, I ran into Thomas and Gene at the cathedral. Thomas and I decided to pair up and head towards the Olympic Park, which (we discovered once we got there) was actually just a bunch of mansions and stuff. So we walked along the lakeshore and wandered into parks. We visited the botanical gardens, a really fun children's playground, and the ruins of an old Roman forum. It was a day full of looking and experiencing :)

The cathedral

What a lovely view! I love seeing fall bloom before my eyes :)

Wakeboarding on Lake Geneva, and some paddle boats with slides on them. Thomas and I wanted to go mini golfing, but accidentally walked past it on our way home... lame.

Parks and Roman Ruins!

There were little projection boxes you could look through that matched up pictures of what the old buildings looked like to the ruins in front of you. It was so cool. The little post things in the second photo were once Corinthian Columns!

I absolutely love it here. The weather is crisp and the trees are changing color, and the lake and the mountains are stunningly beautiful. Like, BEAUTIFUL. I can't even believe it. They blend into the mist and clouds and poke up above them and they are so tall and I just want to stay here forever.

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