Institut et Haute École de la Santé La Source, Lausanne, Switzerland

Institut et Haute École de la Santé La Source

Adaptive reuse of a 1920’s Exposition Hall


The “Institut et haute école La Source”, within the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, is the leading nursing school in the region. Rising enrollment figures, expected to increase the student body from 750 to 900 by 2020, has prompted the Institute’s decision to expand.
The growth has been housed within the historic “Palais de Beaulieu” complex in Lausanne, which is the city’s foremost Congres and Events Center. Over time, and numerous additions, the complex has developed into a labyrinthine cluster, built around anoriginal expo building, first built in 1920. The school project is in fact the adaptive reuse of this symbolic original building.

This full gut renovation has been seized to reveal the building’s original structural core : concrete arches spanning circa 35m wide, and reaching a height of 15 m, which years of ad-hoc, piecemeal interventions, had effectively hidden. While an intermediate level was added to meet floor area requirements, all educational areas are distributed around a double height major central atrium, thus fully exploiting the expressive qualities of the concrete arches. Generous new linear sky-lights give abundant daylight, and cast shadows to dramatic effect, thus bringing light and vitality, deep into the interior core, destined to become the school’s social hub.

Within the 6’000 m2 of dedicated floor area, particular emphasis has been given to such social spaces, which is in line with the « human » nature of such a care oriented profession. Alongside traditional classrooms, 160 and 250 seater auditoria, and administrative areas, the programme features a state-of-the-art “proxy hospital” as well as business oriented work areas destined for start-ups, promoting the real world educational credo of the institution.

The project’s materiality seeks to resonate with the industrial character of the original hall. The exposed structure is whitewashed to reveal the textured quality of its concrete formwork, while floor coverings are a unifying medium grey throughout. The industrial starkness is softened by caramel tainted plywood panelling. The overall tonal neutrality is however playfully contrasted by the presence of quirky mis-matched vintage furniture set around colorful carpet islands.