23. July 2014
For years, Switzerland has held a privileged position in the panorama of international architecture. The country (one of the richest in the world) boasts an excellent network of architecture schools, a modern architectural culture with a long tradition, a powerful publishing industry and excellent conditions for carrying out the profession. Therefore, it is not surprising that in recent years Switzerland has produced figures of the stature of Herzog & de Meuron, Peter Zumthor and Peter Märkli, or the younger Valerio Olgiati and Christian Kerez.
Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein belong to a generation of architects who started their studio at the end of the 1990s and began to build during the turn-of-the-century boom. In their work, the powerful Swiss tradition (both with regard to the use of typologies as well as materials) is enriched thanks to new geographic, economic and technical possibilities. Their work encompasses small domestic interventions (such as the enlargement of a mansion in Arlesheim or a garden pavilion in Basel), passing through various residential and office buildings, until reaching two important interventions in national museums: the Landesmuseum of Zúrich and the Kuntsmuseum of Basel.
The selection of works and projects of Christ & Gantenbein is accompanied by texts from Swiss historian Philip Ursprung, Portuguese architect Diogo Seixas Lopes and French critic Éric Lapierre. The nexus section includes a text and photographs by the architects themselves regarding a trip to Italy and an academic study about typologies of the ordinary in four cities: Hong Kong, Rome, New York and Buenos Aires.
2G 68 Christ & Gantenbein is available on visualMANIAC, Zinio & iBookstore (only digital)
View of the old house from the new house enlargement
The owners of a 1920s mansion needed a more convenient access to their vast garden. Instead of reaching directly into greenery, the new access opens onto a garden room, defined by folded waved concrete walls. Its minimal interface allows the volume to develop as far as possible into the garden: it’s all about living in nature, a classical modern topic inspired by the traditional elements found on the site.
Another view of the house enlargement
From the garden, the fragmented façades, partially hidden by trees, climbing plants and bushes, hide the extension’s real size, and this, combined with its unexpected shape makes it impossible to understand the volume’s exact proportions from nearby. The in situ concrete wall poured into waved fibre-cement boards quotes a petrified shabby garden shed. Inside, another camouflage strategy occurs.
Interior of the “new” house
All-encompassing wallpaper with a botanical pattern merges with the real views of nature. This traditional bourgeois motif refers to the turn-of-the-century atmosphere found in the residence: the darkening of the space emphasizes the light romantic garden. On the one hand, the thin aluminium frames of the large windows, which completely slide into the wall, suggest a modernist gazebo celebrating an open relationship between inside and outside. On the other hand, the clear opening cut inside the wall, a window, turning it into a classic garden pavilion.
Christ & Gantenbein
Simon Businger, Michael Schneider
Helmuth Pauli Ingenieure
Roger Frei, Roman Keller