• © Lamia Dorner

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MottattoM/ Jardin divers/ Art Factory

MottattoM is active in the preservation of Swiss industrial heritage. For more than a century the former factory at 20 Guiseppe Motta Avenue has influenced everyday life in the Servette neighbourhood of Geneva. Converted by artists, artisans and art mediators into working spaces, this industrial outpost is getting a new lease of life.

Factory history

In 1907 Société Coopérative Suisse de Consommation (SCSC, established in 1868, ~now “COOP”) buys the plot from François Moget’s inheritors. The three buildings on the property (503, 503a et 503b)  are used as a dairy and a bakery. It seems that the property is also a hub for transport and delivery vehicles.
In 1910 the architect Edmond Fatio applies for planning permission on behalf of SCSC to build some stables and garages. The plan is for two long, parallel, two-storey buildings separated by a central alley and joined by a single glass roof. On the ground floor of the northern builiding there are stalls, a small room for the stable boy and for storing oats and tools. The southern building opposite is used as a garage for the vehicles. The upper floor is undoubtedly used for storing hay and perhaps some merchandise as well. Only half of the structures are built. According to the architect’s plan, they should be 50 meters long instead of 25 meters. For some years the old buildings 503 and 503b are maintained. A heating system is installed in the  building with the stables.
In 1912 a neo-classical house with apartments and a saddlery is built at the street front. (The ensemble is registered as real estate: stables n° 1176, vehicles n° 1175)

In 1920 SCSC expands and needs more space for vehicles. The architect Léon Belloni adds a major annex for cars to the back side of the 1910 building. A small area at the north-east remains undeveloped and is designated as “the garden”.
In 1924 some transformations take place, ostensibly to adapt the stables for automobiles.
Between 1929 and 1930 Léon Belloni signs the plans for a new enlargement.
In 1957 SCSC exchanges this plot for another property owned by the city of Geneva.
In 1958 the city of Geneva rents the hall at the back of the building to the Société des Compteurs Electriques (SODECO), an enterprise in the neighbourhood.
In 1961 SODECO obtains  development rights to the property and adds another storey to one part of the building. Some damages are reported.
In 1978 SODECO replaces the flat roofs, and puts a metal panel sheet around the glass roof and the exit door as well as concrete slabs under the glass roof.
In 1985 water damages are reported in the 1961 addition to the building. After more than a decade of abandonment Geneva based artists occupy the former SODECO factory and use the buildings as workshops, rehearsal rooms and for community  activities.

We thank Yann Joly and Joseph Frusciante for their indefatigable researches. MottattoM is always interested in further eye-witness-accounts, photos, old plans and complementary information concerning 20 Guiseppe Motta Avenue and its surroundings. If you want to join us in keeping the memory of our neighbourhood alive, please get in touch with us.

Artist’s Federation MottattoM

MottattoM is a self-governing, non-profit federation of artists, artisans and art mediators located in the former SODECO factory in the Servette neighbourhood of Geneva.

MottattoM provides working spaces for theater groups, visual and performing artists, musicians as well as for artisans whose work is collective and oriented towards collaboration with artists. We select and develop activities with consideration for the distinctiveness of the disused factory,  which we want to maintain as one of the sociocultural offerings of our neighbourhood.

MottattoM makes essential working space available to Geneva-based artists and associations.

In this way MottAttoM is an excellent example of a successful conversion of industrial heritage. On the ground floor there are workshops which are fully accessible for deliveries, etc. On the upper floor, visual artists benefit from the incredible lighting conditions afforded by the glass roof. Performing artists have at their disposal rooms of various sizes, matched to the demands of their creations, rehearsals, light installations and scenographies.

Our adaptation of the former factory in 20 Giuseppe Motta Avenue not only provides us with magificent working spaces, it also preserves and transforms  the atmosphere and the history of part of Geneva and honours a piece of industrial and architectural heritage from the beginning of the 20th century.

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