The Internef at Dorigny : a return to green
From 1968 onwards, the University of Lausanne left its premises in the city to make its home at Dorigny, a large greenfield site on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Bureau des Constructions Universitaires de Dorigny (BUD – Dorigny University Construction Bureau) decided to respect the existing topography and environment and designed a general programme which integrated the new infrastructure into the existing country park.
The layout of the various academic buildings is organised using zoning, a model designed to arrange the buildings into themed areas. As a result, the site has developed with the exact sciences quarter in the west, the human and social sciences quarter in the east and the administrative and shared services area in the centre, with all areas linked to each other by communication routes.
The big move
Built between 1973 and 1977, the Bâtiment de la Faculté des Sciences Humaines I, now known as the Internef, was the first university building to spring up in the human and social sciences quarter of the Dorigny campus. Its inauguration marked an important stage in the university’s relocation, because it saw no fewer than three faculties set up home there at the same time, including the Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne) which is still there now.
From function to form
This functional and utilitarian style building is divided into three main sections, each of them reflecting a distinct internal usage. Firstly, a large asymmetric U-shaped plinth consisting of two lateral wings forms the base of the building. Its two storeys are home to areas intended for community life and classes. Five lecture theatres are incorporated into this section on the eastern side, hexagonal structures whose shape is clearly visible from the outside. Capable of seating between 120 and 300 people, these wings host classes and seminars for large numbers of students. Finally, two tall blocks of unequal heights stand on the base of the building, towering over the whole construction and housing offices for teaching staff and the deans’ offices.
Dynamic and imposing architecture
Designed by architects Frédéric Brugger, Edouard Catella and Erich Hauenstein, this building is part of a modernist architectural trend that can be seen all over the Dorigny campus. From the outside, the edifice reveals irregular and disparate shapes, and that is exactly where its dynamism lies. In fact, the various elements of the construction have no apparent symmetry and their proportions are as varied as their architecture. To accentuate this diversity in the buildings and to express their distinct functions, the architects used a range of materials such as aluminium – a modern material – for the rectangular parts, and brick – a more traditional material – for the lecture theatres and classrooms.
Apart from its heterogeneity, the building expresses a monumental aspect, for example, in the interplay between vertical and horizontal elements of the architecture. Indeed, it not only shows a significant horizontal presence, thanks to the two western wings of the building, which project forwards, but also an imposing vertical aspect thanks to the two blocks that top the structure. Lastly, the regular and strict arrangement of the windows also gives the BFSH1 building an austere air.
A space for the community
The Anglo-Saxon campus model, as used at Dorigny, demands the creation of a number of meeting places intended to encourage human contact. The concepts of community and communication play an essential role in the planning of a university campus, with the well-being of the students being the key concern. This is also reflected in BFSH1, where everything is designed to encourage chance encounters among those using the building. The architects have provided large, airy spaces on the upper floors and in the middle of the ground floor where students gather as they leave the classrooms. Indeed, once they pass through the glass entrance doors, visitors find themselves at the heart of a large, open area in which people move around, similar to an airport terminal where the incessant comings and goings of the students set the rhythm every day. In the centre, a few steps lead to a broad, intermediate platform, a place for passing through, meeting up, and dispersing, around which the various floors and wings of the building are organised. This place benefits from an uninterrupted view of the western entrance to the building, as well as over the first and second storeys. From here, there is easy access to the cafeteria in the southern wing or the library in the northern wing, two places which rank highly in students’ priorities.
The Edouard Fleuret library
Since 2000, a small building has been joined to the north-western wing of the edifice; the library of the Institut Edouard Fleuret, designed by architects Patrick Devanthéry and Inès Lamunière. An elegant and discreet structure, it integrates easily into the existing architecture, to which it is attached by a footbridge. Consisting of a single rectangular volume resting on delicate stilts, this refined building with its glass walls provides a contemporary touch to the seventies-style main building.
Maya Birke von Graevenitz
History of Art MA Student, Faculty of Arts.