The Pavilion d’Eau, designed by EPFL architecture student Alexander Wolhoff, was constructed in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The pavilion is a product of six months of research, prototyping, and coordination with different local and academic organizations done in conjunction with LHT3 labs. The exterior of the octagon pavilion has a structural aesthetic, while the interior — only accessed by wading in the water — is ornamental, clad in handmade ceramic tiles.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site municipality of Saint-Saphorin en Lavaux allowed for the temporary pavilion in the waters of Lake Geneva. The project is designed to touch the landscape lightly, not affecting the natural lake bed. The pavilion is comprised of materials including lake stones, wood, and porcelain tiles. To ensure a minimal and reversible impact on the site, the footings of the pavilion are made of seven gabions, metal cages filled with stones collected from the lake.
The wood structure was built by starting with a series of seven prefabricated spines placed into the gabion cages and then weighed down with 1.5 tons of lake stones. Next, a series of horizontal members were bolted on for added stability and to maintain the octagonal form against lateral loads. The entire pavilion used 400 linear meters of wood.
The 150 porcelain tiles that adorn the interior of the dome are hung on the wood structure. The porcelain tiles were individually hand-made in partnership with the CERCCO lab of HEAD. The textural relief on the porcelain takes inspiration from the alpine crests and waves. The surface of the tiles facing inwards on the dome are glazed with blue, playing with reflections of light off the lake water. For the installation of the tiles, they were each pre-mounted onto horizontal members and hung in sets that taper with the dome-like shape the wood spines create.
After six months of research, a dedicated month of production and just two days of assembly, the pavilion was constructed in the waters of Lake Geneva.
Architect: Alexander Wolhoff
Team: EPFL: ALICE D. Dietz, Raffel Baur, LHT3 R. Gargiani ; Me R. Fiechter ; HEAD : CERCCO M. Gerber, I.Schnederle, J-P. Greff
Materials: Porcelain, wood, metal, lake stones
Tools: Saw, drill, kiln
Dimensions: 5m40 exterior diam., 3m interior diam., 3m98 hight
Location: Lake Geneva (lac Léman), Plage des Bains Reymon, Saint-Saphorin, Suisse
Agenda: Six months of research, one month of production, two days of assembly, 400 linear meters of wood, 600 screws and bolts, 150 porcelain tiles individually hand-made, 7 gabions, 1.5 tons of lake stones