The walls that have a past

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The restored Bucherer boutique and its neoclassical façade. Photo: © Bucherer.

It took three years to restore the Bucherer store in Geneva at No 2 Place du Port. But before pushing the door to discover the watches and jewels it serves as a showcase, it is good to stop outside and observe its facade. This neo-classical building was designed from 1932 by the architect Adolphe Reverdin. An ideal inspired by English neo-Palladianism. A whole story. - Isabelle Cerboneschi.

We should raise our eyes more often when we walk in the Streets-Basses of Geneva. Unlike other cities, the architectural beauties of the end of the lake are sporadically revealed, interspersed with a few uninspired buildings and streets that offer a view of the blue, or the green, or the black of the city. Léman, according to his mood of the day.

When you are on the Place du Port, it is good to stop in front of the number 2. Like a motionless ship, in its whiteness and rigour, the building dominates the square. It's been three years since the Bucherer shop and is undergoing renovations. The architects have had the good taste to give it back its original entrance. Historically, it was by the Place du Port that we approached the city of Geneva. There was a port here, hence the name of the place, before it was filled. The only memory of the aquatic past of the place, we discover one of the hundred and fifty fountains in the city of Calvin. The Bucherer boutique is like an anchor, a gateway to the city.

This building is emblematic of an era and part of the landscape since the first part of the XNUMXth century. With its ground floor punctuated by semicircular arches, its immaculate facade, its Ionic columns punctuating the first and second floors, and its Corinthian columns between the third and fourth floors, surmounted by a pediment, it is one of the witnesses of a neo-classical Geneva.

The building of the Place du Port No 2 was built between 1832 and 1835 by the architect Adolphe Reverdin for the brothers David-Henry and Marc-François Brolliet. The latter was the first Genevese to enter the Beaux-Arts in Paris. Upon his return, he participated as an entrepreneur in the construction of the Quai des Bergues (1829-1843), in particular. The time was then euphoria and Geneva was choosing a new destiny.

31 December 1813, the French had been kicked out of the city. "This time, here we are! Said Corporal Massé, closing the gates of the city. Restoration of the République de Genève had been proclaimed. In 1815, Geneva was permanently attached to Switzerland, of which it became the 22e canton.

This mansion is part of the anticomania fashion in the early nineteenth century in Geneva. This smooth, white cube, with its added columns, is reminiscent of the Greek Revival style or English Palladianism. Not surprisingly, Geneva, enamored of Anglophilia, was considered "an English city on the Continent, where one thinks, where one feels in English, where one speaks however, where one writes in French ", according to the remarks of the economist Jean de Sismondi.

During Restauration, the Geneva economy has finally found the path of prosperity. For a time. Following a major urban operation, the city decided to offer a new face, more in step with the times. The Quai des Bergues has gradually been decorated with neoclassical facades that have anchored this part of the city in modernity. Contemporary of theHôtel des Bergues Maison Brolliet is part of the second neoclassical wave. It is one of the last witnesses of the Restoration and undoubtedly the most authentic.

This is all that we can think of standing on the Place du Port, facing this building that tells the story of a confident Geneva in his future without speaking ... Before deciding to push the door and enter the 21st century.

A historical view of the building of the Place du Port No 2 built by the architect Adolphe Reverdin. Photo: © Bucherer.

Drawing of the neo-classical facade of the Bucherer boutique with its semicircular arches and columns that punctuate the floors. A witness of the past. Photo: © Bucherer.

The interior of the restored shop. Photo: © Bucherer.

The lounges with views of Lake Geneva. Photo: © Bucherer.

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