Bouquet du chantier

Almost a year after the laying of the first stone, the Fondation Jan Michalski, entirely devoted to literature, is taking form under its canopy. Its unique architecture, which is now becoming visible, gives it an unusual appearance.
With its multiplicity of buildings, the Fondation Jan Michalski has been conceived as a small city. In the words of the architect Vincent Mangeat, the project takes the form of a large house made up of small houses. Anchored to the ground or suspended so as to embrace the countryside more fully, they are all intended to accomodate the action of the Jan Michalski Foundation in support of literature.

At the heart of this cultural centre is the library, a symbolic space constructed on five levels. It will in due course house a multilingual collection of some 80,000 works covering a broad spectrum of literary movements and linguistic worlds, supplemented by the two underground floors housing up to 200,000 books. Adopting a resolutely modern style of architecture, its numerous extensions and communicating galleries will be entirely constructed in solid oak, which will give warmth. Writers will find spaces in alcoves that are equipped for writing, while comfortable reading areas will be available for the public.

Near to the library, the exhibition area, connected to a multifunctional auditorium has now also been built. They are designed for the production of a large variety of cultural events. As emphasized by the President of the Foundation, Vera Michalski-Hoffman, this space is intended to be open, joyous, abreast of global trends and movements through its contribution to cultural development.

The writers will be housed in rooms suspended from a light canopy, from where the broad view over Lake Geneva will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration.

Construction of the Fondation Jan Michalski : A technical tour de force
The architectural complexity of the Maison de l’Ecriture required numerous studies and much technical dexterity :

The canopy : A woven openwork 3,000 ton covering
Delicately poised on 96 pillars of between 9 and 18 meters in height, and up to 9 tons in weight, the canopy, with a surface area of 4,500 m2 and a thickness of 40 cm of reinforced concrete, is honeycombed with 270 bubbles. Its casing was constructed with 650 tons of shoring. It required the use of particularly dense and complex ironwork weighing 400kg per cubic meter, or four times more than a traditional construction. Six writers’ “cabins” will be attached under the canopy, with a communal cabin housing a kitchen, a dining room and a sitting room, as well as two cabins dedicated to the administration of the Jan Michalski Foundation. The canopy is nearing completion.

The concrete construction of the buildings anchored on the ground
The walls of the library and the exhibition areas, two buildings that are anchored on the ground, are 12 meters in height. To guarantee the high quality and homogenous appearance of the visible walls, they were poured from the full height. In total, 12 stages were required to complete the 165 m2 of walling.

An environmentally friendly construction
The environment and energy efficiency are important aspects of the construction. The buildings are designed to achieve energy autonomy, which is made possible by the installation of efficient insulation, reinforced thermal inertia in the spaces and a highly developed concept of natural ventilation. Heat is produced by a wood chip boiler, using wood from the Commune of Montricher. The installation is completed with solar panels to cover the electricity needs of the site.

The completion of the work is planned during the course of 2013.