Caruso St John Architects

Location: Venice, IT
Client: La Biennale di Venezia
Project Status: Built

This is a full scale fragment of a project undertaken by Thomas Demand and Caruso St John for the City of Zurich. It is the artificial memory of an event twice displaced.

Located at Escher Wyss Platz, an important and unusually messy part of the city’s transport infrastructure, the project was to coincide with the restoration of the 1960s Hardbrücke road viaduct, and the construction of a new tram line. Escher Wyss Platz is in Zurich West, a former industrial area undergoing dramatic transformation with substantial new commercial developments, new cultural institutions, and new inhabitants.

The project proposed to locate two modest buildings under the road viaduct. They appear as archaeological fragments of a street that stood there previously, or as structures carefully tailored to fit the precise topography of the heavy concrete structure of the Hardbrücke. The image for these buildings refers to the ‘Stubborn Nail’, a story from Chongqing of private owners who held out against all odds in their small house while developers demolished the city around them.

On their new site, the two buildings were to contain a Chinese restaurant and a kiosk. They were to be constructed of painted prefabricated timber inside and out, the milled surface of the timber lending the construction an abstract quality that avoids any sense of ‘hand crafting’.

Video: Adam Caruso and Thomas Demand interviewed by Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010