The Interwar Years
The Bel-Air Métropole is a major part of Lausanne’s building heritage. While its tower block is one of the main landmarks on the city's horizon, its two wings stretch from the end of the Grand-Pont as far as Place Chauderon, and link the Flon valley, below, with Place Bel-Air, at a much higher elevation.
The complex was built from 1929 to 1932 by the architect Alphonse Laverrière on behalf of entrepreneurs from Zurich. As a skyscraper – something still uncommon in Europe – the project was an expression of American-style modernism, and was supposed to represent the future of the Saint-François business centre. Its ambitious plan included shops, offices, housing, a restaurant and a 1600-seat cinema. Its technical equipment was state of the art and top of the line: electricity, gas, refrigerators, showers, telephone, etc.
Laverrière thought of every detail of the building, developing ironwork and woodwork. At the time of its construction, the Bel-Air Métropole created major controversy over the huge changes it was causing to the urban landscape. Today, the cinema hosts musical performances and ballets.