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Roche Talk on 29th September 2015

The story of Roche and its architecture with special reference to the sadly neglected building in Broadwater Road, WGC provided a fascinating evening for some 50 people on Tuesday 29th September 2015.

Fulfilling a wish to give a talk in Welwyn Garden City on Swiss architect Otto Salvisberg, Roche's Chief Archivist Alex Bieri liberally illustrated his talk with a wonderful collection of photographs of the Broadwater Road factory under construction and on completion, as well as Roche buildings across the world.

 

The Boardroom at Roche - with mural by Walter Trier

The company adopted its own architectural style early on in its history, requiring a clean, streamlined and functional environment, and that style has been maintained to this day. The designs of Otto Salvisberg were adopted almost immediately featuring large uncluttered spaces and his signature sweeping staircases. The Architect's Journal of 19th January 1939 declared Roche's Welwyn Garden City site "building of the year". Even after his death Roche continued to use the practice Salvisberg set up, ensuring continuity of style.

The staircase in the Roche factory in WGC

The audience included current and ex-employees of Roche, and members of the public from WGC, London and Cambridge. “It was good to see so many people interested in the history and concerned for the future of this unique building. The Trust was delighted to be able to mount the talk and is very grateful to Roche and Alex Bieri for their support” said a Trustee.