Les Arcades / École Maternelle / Salle Polyvalente

Pascal Häusermann, Claude Costy, Patrick Le Merdy

Photography Raphaëlle Saint-Pierre

In 1971, the commune of Douvaine, situated in south-eastern France, elected new mayor doctor Jacques Miguet, a connoisseur of both architecture and visual arts. A thirty minutes ride from Geneva, Switzerland, Douvaine became a ‘bedroom community’ over The Glorious Thirty. Miguet contacted architects Pascal Häusermann and his wife Claude Costy to modernise the small town. The mayor expressed his wish to build the followings in order to save the community’s liveliness: a market square in the center, a cultural and sports hall, a swimming pool, a restaurant as well as a primary school. By 1972, the couple had shown their plans and models to both the city council and the locals. The project was a success and the building of the Salle Polyvalente started in April 1973. The flying sauce-shaped building was the first from the series to be constructed and will be completed by the end of 1974. In 1976, Claude Costy led the building of the primary school which has been spectalularly well saved to this day. The architected said that the structure was eternally modular as it is possible to build additional bubbles to the innitial ones. At the same time, Häusermann and engineer Patrick Le Merdy were joinning forces on the construction of Les Arcades, a circular and pedestrian market square. Due to a lack of funding, nor of the swimming pool or the restaurant could be completed. By 1977, the scale of the project had not pleased most of the locals leading to mayor Jacques Miguet not to be re-elected. His removal from power put an end to the ambitious project the architects designed hand in hand with him. Barely any business was ever implated in Les Arcades, turning them to a playground for the nearby primary school. Half of the original structure was demolished in 1999.


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