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ms Plemenka Soupitch, Lausanne

CHALET SUISSE OR THE PERMANENCE OF ONE VERNACULAR MODEL DURING LAST TWO CENTURIES

There is now a revival in interest for buildings known under the term 'chalet suisse'. This Swiss romande word, from Latin cala- shelter, was popularised in 1723 by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. To begin with there was Albrecht de Haller and his famous poem Alpes which appeared for the first time in 1732 in miscellany Essai de poésie suisse. Albrecht de Haller, a scientist from Bern and his friend Jean Gessner, a naturalist from Zürich, visited the lakes of Léman and Neuchâtel, the Rhone Valley and the Gemmi and Brünig passes areas. The simple and happy life of people living in alpine purity, grazing their animals, making cheese and thanking God for that idyllic life, led cultivated Europeans on pilgrimages. An other reason for this infatuation with nature, heaven, valleys, alpine fields, rustic country and wooden houses, is Friedrich von Schiller¹s drama Guillaume Tell written in 1804. But above all the National Exhibition of Geneva in 1896, where the mazots and cows of Swiss Village engendered the Heimatstill, exalting the beauty of Swiss Chalet with its background of alpine waterfalls. The English, Prussian and Bavarian aristocrats were attracted by the picturesque mountain chalets and, in particular, the Bern Oberland chalets which were depicted in songs, engraving and paintings. The architecture of la scie à chantourner (Laubsäge-Architecture ) became the model for all types of architectures from: the Belle Epoque villas in Arcachon, France; La Vedette, by Viollet-le-Duc in 1878, Lausanne; shingle style in American architecture influenced by the Swiss Cottage after 1839, to Le Cabanon, built by Le Corbusier in Rocquebrune Cap Martin, 1952. In the sixties the modernisation of the Alps literally exploded: roads, railways and cableways were built. The Swiss Chalet industry developed considerably, but at the same tame there were also some notable buildings by architects such as Carlo Molino, Charlotte Perriand, Roland Schweitzer, Pierre Zoelly, Jean-Pierre Darbellay.
The last transformations of the Swiss Chalet are the hamlet of Verbier, an example a fake old chalet and, on the other hand, the daring new creative architecture of Grisons.