Designing the Salève Centre-Museum has been used as an opportunity to renovate the old Mikerne farm in Présilly.
This was the conversion into the Salève museum of a large 15 x 30 farm, an outbuilding of the nearby Abbaye de Pomier built 300 years ago at the Mikerne site on a shoulder offering a magnificent view of the Geneva basin. Le Salève, a stray oblong-shaped mountain on the side of the Geneva basin between the Jura and the pre-alps, suffering from the development pressure of the Geneva connurbation, was in need of an interpretation centre.
The first challenge laid in the historical conservation of this rare undamaged example of 18th century rural architecture. Yet, significant restructuring was required, due to the doubling of the floor area, the need to consolidate the construction to provide stability in the event of an earthquake and the rebuilding of a roof structure heavily damaged by woodworm.
The solution was to insert a virtually independent construction that squats inside the existing walls, separated from the old building on three sides. This structure conserved the original condition of the walls, old plastering, openings, doors and windows, shutters and barn doors by detaching them from the structural and thermal envelope. For the openings and reinforcements made to the old walls, jambs, and opening lintels, and repairs to the tearing and filler stones we used exposed concrete, with no intention of concealing or amplifying these interventions.
The timber structure of this nested construction is the matrix of the project, on which it hinges. Wood prevailed as a solution for its versatility, modularity and dry assembly, and for its multi-construction aspect making it possible to build a continuous shell and primary roof structure, secondary framework, support flooring, envelope boarding, dividing walls and floor.
The construction was divided into very few lots and built without finishings.
It was decided to exclude any form of sophistication in its implementation by:
- only using solid timber
- using elementary assembly methods of the intersecting, superposing, half-timber type
- by avoiding hardware and screw fittings as much as possible
- by varying and leaving all the elements of the mechanical structure visible and bare.