Architecture of Flaine

The legacy of Marcel Breuer

On a virgin site, the American architect Marcel Breuer designed the Flaine station in the 1960s. An urban model in the mountains elevated to the rank of a work of art by those who love this exceptional place.


Flaine has a unique spirit. It is a mixture of architecture, design and art, with monumental sculptures in the open air. The project was first conceived by Eric Boissonnas (1913-2005), a French geophysicist, rich philanthropist, visionary and passionate skier. He dreamed of a utopian city and a great project for France. He asked Marcel Breuer, a Bauhaus master, to create a ski resort in Flaine. This Hungarian-born American architect and designer was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. On a totally virgin site, Marcel Breuer designed a model resort, car-free, ecological before its time, in the heart of the Grand Massif. No chalets, no artifice, but radically contemporary buildings. No wood, but concrete. Apparent concrete, appreciated by Breuer for its aesthetic qualities and its massiveness, highlights nature in all its power. The architect worked alongside Sylvie Boissonnas to design the interiors of apartments and hotels, with furniture by the greatest designers of the time. Marcel Breuer designed everything from street lamps to elevator structures, hotel chimneys and chapel furniture. Three of Marcel Breuer's buildings are listed in the supplementary inventory of historic monuments of France. They are the Ecumenical Chapel (1967), the Flaine Hotel (19966-1968) and the Bételgeuse Building (1966). These buildings have also been awarded the "20th Century Heritage" label.


Flaine can be pretty inaccessible without an interpretive lens. Parisian architect Guillaume Relier is an expert on Flaine and the work of Marcel Breuer. He spent two years studying the station. The promoters of the station asked him to create the reception pavilion and the signage. Guillaume Relier also co-designed the Big Dipper. With his expertise, he presents the emblematic buildings and remarkable details.

"The Hotel Le Flaine, transformed into a residence, is emblematic thanks to its technical prowess. It is striking when seen from below, even if it is not my favourite building. The lounges with their large openings and the fireplaces give a lot of character to the rooms.

For me, the Totem is the most beautiful building in Flaine. Perched on the rock, in the middle of the trees, it fits perfectly into its site. Its location close to the ski area is an asset. The Sibuet family managed to renovate the building while remaining close to the spirit of Marcel Breuer. Their work has aroused the pride of the resort.

The balconies of the rather vertiginous Betelgeuse building refer to the Bauhaus architecture. They are cantilevered, and express a contrast with a form of lightness. I find this architecture to be telluric, with incredible strength.

It's fantastic to have monumental works of art by Picasso, Dubuffet and Vasarely in the open air, in the middle of a ski resort. They are all part of the unique atmosphere of the resort.

I find the chapel remarkable in that it is in perfect harmony with the buildings surrounding it. Marcel Breuer worked on form and materiality. No exposed concrete, but wood covered with slate. As if he wanted to surprise us with something very different.

The Canopée and Lindars buildings in Flaine-Forum perfectly reflect Marcel Breuer's work and aesthetics. He used diamond-shaped prefabricated concrete modules. This gives depth and character to the facades. The resulting play of light and shadow is remarkable. It is the tallest and longest building in the station. "❞ ‍


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