Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody, Work in progress

Project for a temporary artistic installation for a large department store in Geneva.
The competition was run by Christian Robert-Tissot, from Labo Alpes, a research lab on art in public spaces.

Selected for the first round in June 2014.
Jury examiners : Valérie Mavridorakis, historian in contemporary art, Yann Chateigné Tytelman, art critic and curator, and the team of the Store and Visual Factory at Manor Department Store in Geneva.

The main object of the project is to highlight the architecture of the store, by separating it from its sociocultural context.
By distorting the elements of its construction, the aim is to examine the limits of the building and the evolution of its typology. The infiltration of the building by Braillard between the existing volumes confuses our perception. The old and the new buildings constitute one entity. Because of this, we do not know where the store begins and where it ends.
The selected architectural elements  compose a new story of the place and create new rules.

The tool used in this project is the pine tree. By detaching the pine tree from its context, which is the forest, it remains bare and can be multiplied.
The trees could be stacked, hanging or could be proudly standing – they express the idea of expectation and Christmas preparations. It marks the end of a shared moment while introducing the next one.

Are the pine trees waiting to be decorated for the great day ? Or will they be thrown away ?
However, being serene and obedient, they remind us that they are the witnesses of our fairytales and our child-like secrets.
They are here now, we do not have to be frightened anymore.

The experience is to focus on those architectural elements that our eye does not see due to the fact they seem forgetten.
The building by Braillard is today a topic of reflection through its appearance which is considered old-fashioned. Nevertheless, its construction succeded to liberate itself from the rules of architecture. It has the quality to be an unusual composition, which imposed itself in a very protected context.

The analysis of the buildings overlapping – old and new – allows us to understand the scale of the different volumes and their impact on the main entrances of the store.
The infiltrated new building by Braillard is the main tool of pulse and movement in the store.

The proposal

The facade situated on Cornavin street is composed of three parts :

– the old buildings – which do not belong to the store
– the architectural screen of Braillard’s infiltration
– the ancient buildings – which belong to the store
This last part tests the limits of the building. As for example, few people are aware that the old balconies on Cornavin street belong to the store.


For the project, the canopies are important as they underline the commercial spaces while the balconies express an other era.