Saint-Jean Higher Business School

Local authorities

Types of mandate

Historical project







Georges Addor

Owner of
the project 

Etat de Genève



Resulting from one of the few Geneva bids for the construction of schools during the period under consideration, the Saint-Jean business school project by Georges Addor is remarkable in more ways than one. The strategic position of the building, overlooking the cliffs of Saint-Jean, determines its location on the slope, on the southwestern side, while the facade on Rue de Saint-Jean offers a flat four-storey front to the north. The forecourt, which is largely open, forms a kind of stepped amphitheatre facing the view. In terms of functional organisation, the composition is based on the class module, as the “Class” motto of the competition emblematically shows.

Thus, the base unit of the class, inserted in a grid defined by a 45-degree geometry, defines a terraced construction by using successive intervals along the slope. Formal research is based on the stratification of classes assembled in a vertical manner and where the cantilever approach reinforces expressionism. This principle of modular composition is an important step, both in the architect’s work and in the evolution of the architectural concepts of the 1950s in Geneva. The architectural expression of the building clearly reveals the composite process. Thus, on the southwest side, the classrooms’ blocks display their flat facades with large glazed windows, facing the view. The division of the glass into rectangular modules is typical of Georges Addor’s work.

These proportions, which are the result of in-depth dimensional studies, are found in almost all the buildings built by the architect. It is therefore regrettable that, during a recent refurbishment, this characteristic module was not upheld.


Text taken from the book “L’architecture à Genève 1919-1975” published by Payot in 1999 by the Direction du Patrimoine et des Sites du DAEL on behalf of Professor J.-M. Lamunière, I. Charollais and M. Nemec, pp. 660-661.