The iconic nature of the winning proposal for the Planetarium, Centre for Eco Tourism, and Science and Technology Centre is balanced by a rational response to the brief and the constraints of the site. By isolating the planetarium and the activities linked closely to it the design by JB Ferrari & Associates is able to exploit the strong potential for volumetric expression. This allows for a more subdued intervention to the historic buildings. Seemingly evident, such a direction is not an obvious reading of the brief but is made possible through astute reinterpretation of the district plan. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The forests surrounding the historic hamlet of Chalet-à-Gobet are today a focal point for the inhabitants of Lausanne who can be found there year round enjoying any number of outdoor activities. Yet the small cluster of buildings that marks the northern entry to the city now lays partly in ruin after a fire destroyed the historic stables in 2007. In late 2011, the City of Lausanne partnered with the foundation, La Porte des Etoiles, to launch a competition for the renovation and extension of the existing buildings. The program included a planetarium, a centre for eco tourism, and an educational space focused on science and technology. Lausanne practice JB Ferrari & Associates emerged winners from a field of 33 projects.
The existing buildings are reinstated to their former glory; the reconstruction of the stables is contemporary yet modest. A void traverses the entire volume flooding the entry in natural light by day, providing a glimpse to the heavens by night. By contrast the planetarium is voluntarily iconic, enveloped by a mysterious semi transparent facade of perforated copper panels. It is defined by a strong angular geometry – a constellation, a meteorite, a space craft – the new construction is clearly celestial.
Boldly marking the northern gateway to the city, it sits confidently alongside its historic counterparts, and each co-exists, left free to express the architecture of their time. A public place ties the hamlet together; a new hub of activity, the hamlet becomes a veritable focal point.
Architects: JB Ferrari & Associates Location: Chalet-à-Gobet, Lausanne, Switzerland Project Team: Raphaël Christinat, Florence Pulicani-Vovesny, Steve Cherpillod, Xavier Tauxe Client: The City of Lausanne in partnership with the foundation, La Porte des Etoiles Type: Renovation and extension Status: Competition, 1st prize Area: 5’513m2 Approx. Cost: CHF 30’000’000.- Year: 2012