In collaboration with Thomas Demand Zurich, Switzerland 2007–2010
Client: Stadt Zurich Competition, first prize
This project, in collaboration with the artist Thomas Demand, was the winner of a competition for a major public art commission in the City of Zurich. The site is located at Escher Wyss Platz, an important and unusually messy part of the city’s transport infrastructure. The project coincided with the restoration of the 1960s Hardbrücke road viaduct and the construction of a new tram line. Escher Wyss Platz is a former industrial area undergoing dramatic transformation, with substantial new commercial developments, cultural institutions, and residential buildings.
The project proposed to locate two modest buildings under the road viaduct, which would appear as archaeological fragments of a street that stood there previously. 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. The two buildings contain a Chinese restaurant, public toilets, and a kiosk, and are constructed from painted prefabricated timber inside and out.
The timber boards would have a milled surface, to avoid any sense of handcrafting. It was important that the buildings would be only an abstract and approximate image of the original, changing the scale and the material, and using as their reference only poor-resolution photographs of the original building, obtained from the internet.
The project stopped following a public referendum, in which a narrow majority voted against it, objecting to the level of funding for a public work of art. Instead, a full-scale fragment was constructed and exhibited in the 2011 Venice Art Biennale.
Matthew Blunderfield interviewed Thomas Demand in his Berlin Studio for Scaffold Podcast. Alongside discussing his practice in reference to trauma, fiction and chance, they explore his relationship with architecture. When talking about his collaborations with Caruso St John on Nagelhaus and The Triple Folly, Demand explains his position as both close to and separate from the role of architects.
Namely, Words: part 2
London, United Kingdom
9th April - 21st May 2022
Caruso St John and Thomas Demand's Nagelhaus features in Betts Project's group exhibition Namely, words - Part 2. The show invited artists and architects to present a drawn or sculpted work alongside a piece of writing they admire. Prints of Nagelhaus feature in conversation with the lyrics of Talking Heads' Heaven.
Thomas Demand: House of Card
19 October 2020 – 18 April 2021
M Leuven presents a major retrospective of the work of the artist Thomas Demand, featuring two works made by the artist in collaboration with Caruso St John: The unrealised Nagelhaus and the soon to be built pavilion at the headquarters of fabric manufacturers Kvadrat in Ebeltoft, Denmark.
Competition, first prize; cancelled following a referendum
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John
Pablo Donet, Adam Gielniak, Emily Keyte, Michael Schneider