Sicli Pavilion: In Geneva, a fascinating exploration of health architecture

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With the exhibition Support. City, architecture and care, the Sicli Pavilion tells the story of the relationships between town planning and care. A visit that feels good.

Zurich Sex Boxes in 2013. © Keystone

Zurich Sex Boxes in 2013. © Keystone

Published on 05/23/2024

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The idea of Sustain. City, architecture and care sprouted across Jura during the pandemic, while hordes of city dwellers exchanged their cramped spaces for the exhilaration of the fields. After a first realization at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris in 2022, the exhibition moves to Sicli, another pavilion, this time in Geneva. “The display has been largely redesigned, with Swiss specificities that we found important to include,” explains Bénédicte Le Pimpec, responsible for programming at the Pavillon Sicli Foundation, organizer of the exhibition.

On the left, a man undergoing treatment at work in a sanatorium in Leysin, around 1930. In the middle, the PPS system, for Paper Tube Partition Systemhere for emergency accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, in a former Tesco hypermarket in Chelm, Poland, in March 2022. And on the right, the Bains des Pâquis in Geneva, in 1932.
© Fonds Rollier/municipality of Leysin/Jerzy Łątkas/Frank-Henri Jullien/Library of Geneva

Rather classic in Paris, the scenography here is essentially horizontal, built around seven thematic sections and developed in collaboration with the curators, the philosopher Cynthia Fleury and the SCAU collective of architects. The proposal is interested in “places and architectures which hold us and support us, rather than holding us and containing us”, nicely formulates an introductory text.

Work cure

We explore the place as well as the visibility of the act of care in cities and beyond, at the heart of the “Distance” chapter. It is about the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) as well as the essential Parisian Hôtel-Dieu, which was founded in the 7the century and which has crossed the ages while remaining in the city center, because care as charity is aimed at a wider precarious population. Identical location for Quai 9, injection site established next to Cornavin station, in Geneva. On the contrary, leprosariums and other asylums are relegated to the periphery. Peri-urban areas where the BIPS, a friendly Geneva “AIDS prevention” bus set up in 1991, happily went.

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The Bains des Pâquis in Geneva, in 1932.
© Frank-Henri Jullien/Library of Geneva

With “Elements” we talk about the air, for example that we breathe in Alpine sanatoriums. An astonishing black and white photo shows a largely naked man “in treatment at work”, in Leysin, with his typewriter, around 1930. We also chase away the “bad air” from the cities, a malaria frowned upon for a long time, for an “aeristic” approach that we also practice at home. As for the waters, the exhibition evokes both the iodized waters of the seaside and the aromatic Lake Geneva waves of the Bains des Pâquis, a Geneva institution built in 1872.

The exhibition takes us into the drive-in sex from the Zurich outskirts

Elsewhere, there is talk of the Alzheimer Village of Dax, where residents live in an architectural space reminiscent of their younger years. We are also thinking about the place of care in places of care, to partially replace treatment, for example in the very pleasant hospital space imagined by the architect Francis Kéré in Burkina Faso. Or within the Geneva House of Childhood and Adolescence, a new approach to child psychiatry in the heart of the city.

The theme of “Heterotopias” (the physical locations of utopia according to Foucault) takes us into the drive-in sex on the outskirts of Zurich, with a box to secure the work of prostitutes; or between the plants of the Therapeutic Garden of the Beau-Séjour Hospital in Geneva, a place of rehabilitation for people with brain injuries.

Many cemeteries

Then depart for Kent, with a view of the Channel as much as a nuclear power station, in the garden of the artist Derek Jarman in Dungeness, which he patiently shaped in the eight years before his death from AIDS in 1994. As for the chapter “Necropolises”, which reminds us that the majority of Swiss end their days in hospital, it takes us through many cemeteries. Including that of the Geneva commune of Veyrier, where Jewish graves are located on French territory, due to a cantonal ban on confessional cemeteries.

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The PPS system, for Paper Tube Partition System, designed by Shigeru Ban, here for emergency accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, in a former Tesco hypermarket in Chelm, Poland, in March 2022. © Jerzy Łątkas

In the middle of this display “devoid of preconceived meaning and which we visit as we wish”, specifies Bénédicte Le Pimpec, a space allows you to delve into the catalog of the route, a splendid work of some 300 pages “forming an integral part of the exposure”. Alas without the Swiss additions.

>Le CourrierPavillon Sicli, Geneva, until June 2.

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