Geneva, a tailor-made story – Maison Tavel relocates its high-tech relief with dignity

The 2012 relief on which old plans are projected is one of the attractions of the museum in rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre.

Posted: 09.28.2022, 10:13 a.m.

The relief is now on its own in a parquet floor, a setting more suited to this immersive device.


“I have two reliefs…” could sing Maison Tavel. “The old and the new,” she might add more pastorally. The former is the star of the attic at 6, rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre. It bears the name of its builder Auguste Magnin and represents Geneva in 1850. It is made of zinc and copper. The new one already dates from 2012; it's "Geneva, a tailor-made story", a more modest relief which comes to life thanks to projections of old plans and maps, synchronized chronologically with a slide show scrolling above it. All commented by a recorded voice that is better to listen to when no one is talking around.
This last Tuesday of September, it is a day of great hubbub because the City and the State came hand in hand to inaugurate the displacement of the said relief by a few meters. It has gone from the first large room on the ground floor of Maison Tavel to a lounge with parquet flooring overlooking the garden. He is there alone; which allows you to see it by hearing the comments better than in a place where the comings and goings of visitors are constant.
Because it is an “immersive device”, as the speakers reminded us. First a speaker, because the administrative adviser Sami Kanaan no longer takes the floor if there are only men on the program; he therefore hands it over to Virginie Todeschini, head of the cross-functional projects unit at the Department of Culture and Digital Transition. Then, State Councilor Antonio Hodgers also salutes the interest of digital technology in the service of understanding the past.

Prehistoric pilings

"Geneva, a tailor-made story" has been noticed since its creation ten years ago by many spectators. In twelve minutes, the spectator goes from the retreat of the glaciers to the 19th century through all the historical maps of Geneva in the possession of the Geneva Library (BGE), projected on a white relief. A spectacular way to understand how our territory has been transformed under the effect of natural forces, but also by the action of human populations. A beautiful work carried out by the Geneva company On-situ by Jean-Michel Sanchez and Julien Roger, in a scenography by Vasken Yeghiayan. The texts are by geographer Jean-François Coulais.
From 2012, this relief traveled through Switzerland, then it came to rest at the Maison Tavel, where the interest it has not ceased to arouse suggested to the curator Alexandre Fiette to finally devote a special room to it. . It neighbors an impressive installation provided by the Cantonal Archaeological Service. These are pilings from a pile-dwelling village on the edge of the lake. It is all that remained of prehistoric lakeside dwellings located at the bottom of the Plonjon path. They are arranged opposite the relief, fixed on a black structure which crosses the room and encompasses the projection space. It's quite impressive to come face to face with pieces of wood carved by people from the Final Bronze Age, between 1063 and 858 BC. J.-C.
The move of “Geneva, a tailor-made story” offers the opportunity to shine a good spotlight on this highly instructive and attractive achievement of the digital age.
“Geneva, a tailor-made story”, to be seen in its new room, Maison Tavel, 6, rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre.

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