Caruso St John Architects

Location: Zurich, CH
Client: Stadt Zurich
Project Status: Competition, first prize

This project, undertaken in collaboration with Thomas Demand, was organised by the City of Zurich. Located at Escher Wyss Platz, an important and unusually messy part of the city’s transport infrastructure, the project coincides 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 will lend the construction an abstract quality that avoids any sense of ‘hand crafting’.