Following on from issue 450, “Back to School”, published last September, AA looks at places of learning, from nurseries to universities. In Geneva, the Swiss architects from office Lacroix Chessex, founded in 2005 by Simon Chessex and Hiéronyme Lacroix, have completed in 2022, for the City of Geneve, a nursery in a former vermouth factory dating from the late 19th century. The office explains to AA the challenge of welcoming this very young public in a semi-buried ground floor.
AA: Could you tell us about your project and its challenges?
Lacroix Chessex: Built in 1868, the building is composed of three levels of housing on a semi-buried ground floor for industrial use (a former vermouth factory), and two low annexes forming a courtyard and a garden at the rear. The City of Geneva has acquired the property in 1951 and it underwent various transformations (alterations) in the 1970s and 1980s. The main challenge was to implement a day care programme in the vaulted spaces on the ground floor and to create physical connections (a staircase and a lift) between these vaulted spaces on the ground floor and the first floor.
AA: Our issue dedicated to schools was focused on showing how new ways of teaching influence architectural forms. Even though it is not a school, could you tell us how you think your project has adapted to the reception of young children?
Lacroix Chessex : What is interesting here is that it is not our project that has been adapted to young children care, but the opposite. The programme has had to bend and adapt to the existing building! And here is the project’s interest and quality: transforming an existing historic building has generated spaces for children. We had to be inventive and creative to imagine how existing spaces, according to their spatial characteristics (qualities and constraints), could be used and experienced. In the end, a former vermouth factory from the end of the 19th century, helped by “small” contemporary architectural interventions, is a great and quite suitable space to welcome young entrants – and that is what was so great about it.
In the end, a former vermouth factory from the end of the 19th century, helped by “small” contemporary architectural interventions, is a great and quite suitable space to welcome young entrants – and that is what was so great about it.
Crèche route de Frontenex, Genève
Client: DPBA – Ville de Genève
Architects: Lacroix Chessex architectes
Team: Mara Sciarini, Chloé Nyffenegger, Nicolas Tappolet, Candela de la Macorra, Charlotte Prins, Ricardo Teixeira, Paul Trellu
Surface: 1 900 m²
Discover more learning space projects in our issue 450, "Back to School", available in our online shop.