Board 6




Le Pont, an architecture in radical change

Brilliant architecture of a village: entity and diversity

Traditional farm houses

 

"The first house was built in 1549. There were around eight buildings in 1600."

 

Towards the 16th century, the colonisation of the land started around the bay in Le Pont. The style nevertheless corresponds much more to the style of the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, which can be identified on the oldest buildings.

 

Most farmsteads offered a residence, usually for more than one family, but also silos and barns. The village lived mainly on farming.

 

The majority of the buildings were built on ground level. At the end of the 18th century, the buildings were built higher.

 

The buildings were built along Lake Road; some farmsteads were built parallel to the street. Although most of them had the entrance crosswise to the street, so they were sheltered from wind and weather.

 

The big roof. This building combines two farms under one roof, doubled and adjoining each other. In the 19th century the building was remodelled which explains its actual size. We believe that the building was built at the end of the 16th century
The big roof. This building combines two farms under one roof, doubled and adjoining each other. In the 19th century the building was remodelled which explains its actual size. We believe that the building was built at the end of the 16th century

 

These houses were built from battered stone and were sealed with lime based mortar; doorway and window frames were made from wood or limestone by the owner himself, if they had the means to do it.

 

From the residential part to the barns, everything was built with battered stone, the barns were built on wooden beams and the facades then were closed with vertical planks.

 

All the roofs were made from wood and then covered with shingles.

 

Not only for economical and familiar reasons, but also for protection from harsh weather conditions, the homes were built in groups; the farms were closely built.  The two very impressing buildings you see opposite this street were built as a double farm under one roof; although they belonged to different farm owners. Here in the Vallee de Joux, these associations are called “voisinages” which basically means neighbourhood.

 

The building plans of the farm houses

Schematic plan of a farm house
Schematic plan of a farm house

 

The building plan was always the same pattern, passed on from generation to generation. This pattern included the living rooms on the lakeside, separated by a long hallway through to the barns. Through the same hallway you get through to the kitchen, the feeding stations in winter and at the very end to the stairs which lead to the upper floor of the building.

 

The kitchen, a place full of life at this time, was the only heated room thanks to a fire place on the floor which could be covered with glazed bricks. A pyramid shaped chimney, covered with wood, ran across the house up to the roof.  The pipes could be closed by two mobile wooden flaps. Depending upon wind and weather, they could be adjusted with a metal bar from down below. The utility room was warmed with a cast-iron hearthstone between these two rooms, from the same chimney.

 

The courtyard followed the hallway through to the silos and the feeding stations, parallel to the barns. Below the roof used to be the hay loft, with the winter feed for the animals.

 

A big chimney in our buildings from Les Combes. Made from wood, it goes through the building and opens up on the roof, where it can be closed by two flexible hatches. Of course the soot makes it all black in the inside
A big chimney in our buildings from Les Combes. Made from wood, it goes through the building and opens up on the roof, where it can be closed by two flexible hatches. Of course the soot makes it all black in the inside

 

The so called „Néveau” used to be a special room in the farms of the Vallee de Joux. It was part of the courtyard, a mixture of a  work and living room, where one could chop and store wood, keep farm tools for milking, find shelter for certain precision farm work; it was also used as a meeting point and to rest for a bit.

 

In the following centuries community buildings followed the farms, for example the old church, which doesn’t exist anymore, the school, the dairy, the train station, the hostel.

 

Other constructions that can still be seen today give a certain structure to the village; for example the stone wall that used to be built around a building as a form of protection for the gardens and the water wells, which were most important at this time.

 

The industrialisation and the economic development

 

Buildings express a certain life style of a population within a given historical period. One example was the ice trade, for which an ice storage (Entrepôts des Glacières) was built in 1879 in Le Pont, next to Lac Brenet. This activity in turn is followed by an opening ceremony in 1886 of the train station which then again intensifies the touristic attraction of the region.

 

The mansion of doctor Hippolyte Yersin, a physician who worked there when the Grand Hotel was built in 1901. Further down, the new church, built in 1900
The mansion of doctor Hippolyte Yersin, a physician who worked there when the Grand Hotel was built in 1901. Further down, the new church, built in 1900

 

The Le Pont village is growing very quickly population wise. New buildings for tourists are built (hotels, guesthouses, private buildings, a church and shops).  Some farms are remodelled to be able to keep up with the demand.

 

A modern hotel / pension - with 50 beds - was built so the village could keep up with the touristic development and the economic success
A modern hotel / pension - with 50 beds - was built so the village could keep up with the touristic development and the economic success

 

New activities are developed. Farm life is changing. Little by little, every farm house is refurbished and is only used as a residence or as a retail place. There is only one agricultural farm left in Le Pont.

 

The second half of the 20th century is witness to new and individual house constructions; country cottages with one or more residences and small blocks of flats.

 

The hotel Mondésir was built by Roger Lehmann at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the centre of many works and extensions. The building was filled with Belgian and French prisoners from 1916 until 1918
The hotel Mondésir was built by Roger Lehmann at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the centre of many works and extensions. The building was filled with Belgian and French prisoners from 1916 until 1918