Add your work!

L´Escalier d´Eau
temporary installation, Lausanne

Project Author(s)

Office Profile

Project Info

Completion: 2004
Country: Switzerland
Type: Built Project
Category: Gardens

Project Text

The Flon Valley is a site of its own, immersed in the city of Lausanne. In the area of the Pont Chauderon, buildings, bridges and slopes form a series of barriers in the valley. Behind the Ar- senic Theatre, potentially oriented towards Lake Geneva, a neglected slope, strewn with dense ruderal growth, blocks passage and view. It is a site, still unfinished, a site in movement.

The industrial program of the Flon Valley has given way to a new, mixed cast of users. In a finely woven network the city is linked to these various, mainly cultural institutions through a multitude of access ramps and stairways. Along the Plateforme de Sevelin they exist in great formal and functional variety: improvised, proper, and decorative stairs provide the valley with an eclectic mixture of access.

The water-staircase consists of four containers, which are set onto the slope as a diagonal stack. They are filled with gravel and water and planted with water lilies. The upper, accessib- le container is filled with gravel only. The opened container doors and a large steel-plate form the gate to a garden. It is simultaneously a Bellevue: From the edge of this first step of the Escalier d’Eau one has a view through the canopy of trees into the valley and onto water-ba- sins below. In its two-sidedness the staircase is interpreting the characteristics of the different spatial levels of the place. At the foot of the containers, the viewer is down in the valley. From here, the containers are mysterious vessels whose content can only be vaguely guessed. Inside the upper container, one is above the valley and the inner life of the Escalier d’Eau is revealed: a garden.

The planting with water lilies adds a moment of wonder to the industrial shell of the water-staircase. It temporarily turns the containers and the slope into a blossoming garden.

The intervention “Escalier d’Eau” takes up the theme of the staircase, at the same time offering an alternative approach to the valley and towards the lake. By positioning this “bellevue” next to the course of the subterraneously channelled Flon River and by temporarily opening the thicket on the steep slope with a stairway of water, we enable a moment of sight of the valley and the notion of an opening city-space. With the tiered water-basins, we provide a gardenesque notation of the site. The Escalier d’Eau sets a stage for perceiving the valley. The installation is intended as a tempora- ry intervention. Containers conventionally used in construction, are during the course of a garden-season transformed into a water- staircase. In the months to follow they will return to serve their inherent purpose. In this, the water-stairway is also an interpretation of the existent: different forms of containers are currently stored on the adjacent site of a construction company. The water-stairway is closely con- nected to the “working-landscape” of the site. It is not an imposi- tion of something foreign, but rather enables a modified perception of the existent. On the unfinished and undefined slope - a location, which is still a challenging construction site of urbanity - we use the ephemeral character of the containers for a brief reanimation of the industrial spirit of the place.

Project Data

2. price with SPAX Architekten, Biel
competition 2003
planning: 2003-2004
size: 100m2 cost: 25.000 CHF phases: 1-9
client: Association Lausanne Jardins


46.519617 6.63221 Lausanne