I am really not a fan of contemporary architecture: too often, the buildings architects erect in this country are nothing more than soulless boxes – maybe a military bunker makes for a better comparison*.

So last year when I came across this artist’s impression of the housing and library complex being built just outside the métro station at La Sallaz, I could not help but feel a little saddened by this further instance of the ‘bunkerisation of Lausanne’ [my own coinage]:

DSCN9566Artist’s impression of the new buildings at La Sallaz, Lausanne

Strangely, it was only very recently that I realised that the kind of battens they have added to the building are meant to echo the wood just opposite: Sauvabelin.

DSCN9212The new buildings at La Sallaz, as seen from the métro

Interestingly, the word ‘echo’ is derived from Greek mythology:  ‘Echo’s hopeless love for Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image, made her fade away until all that was left of her was her voice. […] Gaea (Earth) buried her limbs but allowed her to retain the power of song. ’ [Source: Encyclopædia Britannica] To me, it is as if man, in his ardour to turn into concrete his natural surroundings, would only allow a faint reminder (the battens on the building) of what once must have stood at this very spot: some trees.

PS They also built boxes in the nineteenth century, but these boxes were not as bland. They had some decoration, they had balconies and columns, sometimes they even had nice mural colours adorning the buildings, as is the case on this picture of an ‘echo’ of the Venetian palazzo:

DSCN921119th century buildings in Lausanne’s ‘Sous gare’ area, as seen from the métro

How different from the type of architecture that has become the norm in Europe since the fifties. How sad, is it not?

*In fact, I have been thinking of writing an entry on this topic for quite some time: I have shot photos here and there and I have even come up with a snappy title – but better keep my cards close to my chest for the time being, no?

An extended version of these rants is to be published in French on my personal website under the title ‘Echos lausannois’.