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Public clock “What time is it?”

Donated to the City of Geneva by Ms Nelly Monéger-Glayre, the public clock is installed on the awning of the main entrance to the Uni-Dufour building.

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The public clock offered to the City of Geneva is the result of a design competition organised by the municipality for the students of the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL). Originally, the clock was to be installed on the mur de la Treille, in the same place as an old clock from the 1930s.

Design and technology

Precise to the minute, the public clock offers a novel means of telling the time. In an era when we carry several devices enabling us to read the time, the idea of this clock is to “tell the time” by speaking to passers-by: “It is twenty past eight”. By using words rather than a graduated dial to tell the time, the clock encourages people to take their time and answers the unspoken question, “What time is it?”

In technical terms, the clock uses the same system as the departure boards found in stations and airports, consisting of rotating flaps. At night, it is lit up by means of built-in fluorescent tubes.

The clock was made by the company ANNAX passenger electronics SA in Bienne.

History

In the 1930s, the wall overlooking the Place Neuve at the corner of la Treille and rue de la Corraterie was decorated with a clock. It enabled many of the district’s inhabitants, and more particularly the children who attended the Parc des Bastions school which has now been knocked down, to keep to their timetable.

Recalling her childhood memories, Ms Nelly Monéger-Glayre expressed her desire to install a public clock in the district once again. Consequently, the City of Geneva organised a competition for the product and industrial design students of the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), who had access to both the technical tools and the aesthetic concepts, thanks to their courses. The City of Geneva received some 17 different proposals. In consultation with the benefactor, a jury of specialists and representatives of the municipality selected the “What time is it?” project submitted by Mr Nicolas Le Moigne.

This project was chosen unanimously, both for the sensitivity of its principle and for its formal simplicity.

A site for the clock

After a few wanderings, the public clock finally found its home in 2010, on the wall of the Uni-Dufour building, very close to the site of the original clock.

Acknowledgements

The City of Geneva offers its warmest thanks to the benefactor, Ms Nelly Monéger-Glayre.

It would also like to thank the state of Geneva, which owns the Uni-Dufour building, and the University of Geneva.

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Article modifié le 30.01.2020 à 22:52