This project for a new bath-therapy centre at Vichy, a turn-of-the-century spa town with a fusty image, aims at creating an architectural and urban event capable of giving the town an air of modernity. The site is cut by a wide boulevard, providing the opportunity to create a tangible and visible connection between the gardens linked to the water springs on the city side and the Parc de l’Allier.
The proposed building oversteps the boulevard and creates a frame/reverse-angle shot of the city looking towards the park and vice versa. On the boulevard-side façades, a large vault creates a strong city-gate symbol. The centre is made up of two parallel blocks – one for therapy, the other for accommodation – linked by a roof-bridge on which are two swimming pools.
The building’s handwriting tends to assimilate the refined and monumental character of spa-town architecture by the use of glass in different forms: in blocks on public floor areas, and set against copperleaf backgrounds in the huge hall, in clear bays with fine lacquered steel and aluminum fittings.
Olivier Boissière in Jean Nouvel: Jean Nouvel, Emmanuel Cattani and Associates, Éditions Artemis Verlag, Zurich, 1992