The Liège alderman Georges Truffaut launches the Thermal Baths project. This includes two swimming pools, a bus station, a hydrotherapy section, adjoining offices, a café-restaurant and a dance hall. The modernist architect, Georges Dedoyard would be appointed after a competition with strict rules.
The Germans enter Liège. The war delays the works and the bombardment of the night of 25 May 1940 causes damage, 2,500 tiles on the translucent concrete arch would have to be replaced. A bomb shelter is built in the basement. In May 1940, during the works, this would house around thirty refugees.
The building is completed under Nazi occupation and opens to the public in May. Georges Truffaut, who had died in England a month previously would never see his project completed.
Considered as one of the most important creations of the inter-war modernist style, the La Sauvenière building adopts the shape of an ocean liner with majestic proportions. Inside, the most striking feature is the great hall with the pools which extends over 80 metres long and 10 metres high.
Dedoyard was inspired by the German artistic and architectural trend, Bauhaus. Elementary shapes - here the cube and the sphere - are emphasised and symmetry reigns. The bare walls, clean lines and the omnipresence of reinforced concrete and glass are all consistent with this essentially functionalist architecture.
La Sauvenière quickly enjoys immense success. Over 800,000 bathers would be recorded in 1943, a record year. The state-of-the-art swimming pools are equipped with suspension devices that can support 50 people learning to swim at the same time. A revolution!
The La Sauvenière sporting complex is created. Gyms, judo, fencing, wrestling, table tennis and boxing clubs are set up.
On the building’s ground floor, the bus station is operating at full strength. Waiting rooms, newspaper kiosks, hot-dog sellers, refreshment stalls... the commuter enjoys real comfort. 20 lines serve the building with 400 departures a day.
Right in the city centre, various schools attend the Thermal Baths every day. At the time, the entrance was on the Boulevard de la Sauvenière.
The Thermal Baths close for non-compliance with safety standards. The building is gradually abandoned and only a few facilities still operate.
At the instigation of the Territoires de la Mémoire non-profit association, the MNEMA non-profit association is created to manage the “Cité Miroir” project. In the same year, the building is partially classified as a Walloon Heritage Monument.
2009 – 2013
The refurbishment works were assigned to the Pierre Beugnier Design Office and Triangle Architectes. The change of function is radical: the venue must mature into a cultural space with space for exhibitions and an auditorium, all equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art technologies in terms of insulation, heating and lighting.
La Cité Miroir is opened. 22,000 visitors flock to its inaugural week.
La Cité Miroir has welcomed over 80,000 visitors a year since it opened.
Octobre 2014 - mars 2015
The first, large-scale exhibition “L’Art dégénéré selon Hitler” (Degenerate Art according to Hitler) reflects on the history of the sale in Lucerne in 1939 and its consequences. It is visited by 52,000 people.
The permanent exhibition by the Territoires de la Mémoire non-profit association opens at La Cité Miroir. Plus jamais ça ! (Never again!) recalls the journey of the deportees to the Nazi camps. Guided by the voice of the actor Pierre Arditi, through sound, images, lights and music, the visitor is led to discover the spaces that explore one of the darkest chapters in our history, before finally being confronted with the current world and the urgency of resisting every day.
A brand new permanent exhibition, produced by the Centre d’Action Laïque de la Province de Liège, is presented at La Cité Miroir in February 2016. En Lutte (The struggle). Histoires d'émancipation (stories of emancipation) reflects on the memory of workers ‘struggles and reminds us that the social solidarity that we enjoy today in Belgium is a precious heritage for which generations of workers have fought.
Designed in the form of a journey through time and guided by images, sound, light and the voice of the French actor Philippe Torreton, the exhibition shows that through the momentum of collective actions, the world can change and social progress can be made.
Septembre 2016 - février 2017
“You are not born a racist, you become one” Lilian Thuram
For almost five centuries, the human exhibition industry has fascinated over 1.4 billion visitors and shown somewhere between 30 and 35,000 exhibits worldwide. Through the exhibition Zoos humains. L’invention du sauvage (Human Zoos, the invention of the savage), viewers learn how racist prejudices took hold during the time of the major colonial empires.
The Groupe de recherche Achac and the Lilian Thuram - Éducation contre le racisme, have joined forces with the Centre d’Action Laïque de la Province de Liège and MNEMA non-profit associations to present at La Cité Miroir the tale of this forgotten history, at the crossroads of colonialism, science, racism and the entertainment world... the story of the “human zoos”.
La Cité Miroir reaches 250,000 visitors!