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Palais lumière

Restoration of the old bathouse into a museum, a Media and a Convention Centre, a Performance Space

Ernest BRUNNARIUS, 1902

The construction site of Evian’s bathouse started in 1902 by the architect Ernest Brunnarius and was finished by Jean-Albert Hébrard. It was constructed to illustrate and highlight « Beaux-arts » eclecticism, which movement set out to please the bourgeoisie of the Industrial Revolution.

The building has a stronger appeal than its simple image. The consideration of its typology and its space composition imposes itself. The Convention Centre, located to the West, and the main room and hall of the Museum, located to the East, represent some of the main icons of the whole structure. They find a natural place under the glazed ceilings and in the courtyards where the pools/baths were formerly located. The conservation, re-creation and transmission of an exceptional heritage building is perfect. As a whole ; the restitution faciliates the understanding of the strenght and the unity of Brunnarius’ composition such as his dome and bell turrets, (which transform the more functionaly aspects such as the high glazed roofs over the courtyard.



Ernest Brunnarius was member of the French Alpine Club. He died for his passion for the mountains before having finished his construction site. He transmits his fascination for Nature to his architecture. His art is a journey: one has to ascend the high ramps of the world, venture into the dark cavern of the mysterious vestibule, allow oneself to marvel at it all while being bathed in the iridescent light and leaved refreshed by the curative waters coming from the four Evian sources. Here everything is a journey and a discovery.

The promotion for health and hygiene, separate for both sexes, appears to be a reason for the symetric , monumental composition centred on a tower covered with a sparkling dome made of stamped zinc and glass. This pinnacle soars up like an Alpine peak 35meters above the calm water of the Lake of Leman.

Inside, the combination of glass and steel, and light it emitted, illuminates every corner. The vast hall, canopied by a dome made of cathedral glass and by glazed stained glass windows at the four cardinal directions, makes the whole glow like a magic lantern at the sun’s first rays. The ancient swimming pools at the centre of the courtyard possess an elegance which comes from the finesse of the profiles.

Transformed, degraded by time and neglect, deprived of its dome and bell turrets, the building lies abandoned, like a wreck on the shores of the lake. When the Municipality of Evian bought it out, and made its new Media and Convention Centre, and its Museum.


  • LocationEvian-Les-Bains (74000)
  • ClientVille d’Evian-Les-Bains
  • Schedule2003-2007
  • Cost/Area17 M € HT
  • TeamFrançois Chatillon, architecte
    Avec Michel Spitz, architecte