Cartier Saint-Imier Factory

  • Saint-Imier, Switzerland
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Jean Paulhan would have appreciated Saint-Imier: not a single vine hides the landscape. The red-tiled roofs of the town stretch over the flanck of an unpretentious little valley: cattle graze on the lush meadow grass; beyond, the horizon is sealed by the dark curtain of the forest line. It was here that Cartier the jewelers commissioned Jean Nouvel to build a watch-making production unit. The building lies on the valley slope just below the town, backing on to a long embankment. From afar, its clear, glazed facades appear like a narrow, silver rectangle placed discreetly, yet intriguingly, in the landscape. The roof overhangs three sides of the building and is visible from the town; it has been treated as a fifth façade, a large plane with bands of sun-screens. The interior, with work spaces separated by simple glazed partition walls, offers a full view of the landscape, barely obstructed by the fine slats of the metal blinds. At night, the building silhouette, picked out in the white light, seems to float in the dark.



Olivier Boissière in “Jean Nouvel“, Ed. Terrail, Paris, 2002