In 2011, the owners of a home designed by EPFL trained Swiss architect Vincent Mangeat, decided to make some alterations. The modernist masterpiece has a large open terrace at the front, and the owners decided to close the opening to keep out the weather and reduce noise from the nearby road. The proposed change drawn up by another architect involved replacing a roll-down screen with folding glass door panels.
The house was featured in a number of specialist magazines and Vincent Mangeat opposed the alteration on the grounds that he designed it and was entitled to protect his work of art. The commune of Givrins ignored his request, so he took his case to Vaud’s cantonal court. In May 2015, the cantonal court agreed with the architect and prevented the planned works. The decision stated that the house had been custom designed, was the result of intellectual effort, possessed a unique character and should not be altered. The verdict also explained how the building expressed the architect’s originality and lent to his reputation.
The owner was not prepared to accept this verdict and took the case to the federal tribunal in Bern. While the federal tribunal agreed that the house should be a protected work, the practical functioning of the building was deemed paramount and granted the proposed alterations a green light. The owner said he had “requested a house for his family, not a work of art”.
Disappointed the 75 year old architect said “It makes sense that a building evolve with the needs of its owner, as long as the alterations are done well, can be distinguished from the original design and can be removed” adding that the decision meant that “some of the care we owe to architecture has been lost.”
After all these legal proceedings, the house is now for sale. The 9 room property with swimming pool, is currently advertised on homegate.ch (with photos) at a price of CHF 2,950,000. The listing makes no mention of any alteration plans, past, present or future.