In keeping with the almost unfathomable extent of global challenges, the purview of architecture has become more complex. Fulfilling human needs has evolved into a diversely precarious enterprise. With architecture being deeply affected, the discipline must open up to new discourses. Causes and effects of—and countermeasures against—urban sprawl, the aggravation of climactic, energy, and social conditions, but also the creeping degradation of architectural building culture, can be approached only in dialogue with other fields of endeavor.
In order to approach this intricacy at an international level, the Department of Architecture sees itself as a dynamic structure of complementary teaching and research entities. At the center of this program is practice-oriented education in design and construction. Here, the actual production of architecture begins, and it is in design studios that comprehensive and passionate education in architecture takes place. All activities are characterized by a profound understanding of the past and a forward-facing outlook. Talents are furthered by stringent and visionary thought, as well as sharp observations; an unconventional approach is taken to solve complex problems in a cross-disciplinary manner. Represented almost as a formula, Design, Construction, and Integrated Disciplines are mutually determining: D+C+I.
Design studios in ETH Zürich are organized by Chairs directed by a Professor who develops his own pedagogic project. Professor Josep Lluís Mateo’s Chair at ETH Zürich proposes to the students each semester to work on a research topic highly relevant on the contemporary architectural context. This approach is both practical, through the exercises proposed to the students, and theoretical, through the research developed at the Chair and by external contributors and that is reflected in a yearly publication, “Architectural Papers.” The selected projects presented here are connected with two of these research topics.
The first one, “Cathedrals of our Time,” propose to develop significant architecture beyond its contemporary status as an icon through two different programs and locations: a Concert Hall in Dubrovnik and a small Museum in the periphery of Basel. The two main issues developed in these projects are the definition of a significant space and the interpretation of the context. The Concert Hall as a public building with specific consistence and expression into a Mediterranean city fabric where the space is defined by sound and the context considered as a cultural, historical fact. The small museum as a pavilion in a green area surrounded by industry buildings and infrastructure where the space is defined by light and the context considered as a physical fact.
The second topic, “Spaces to Work,” provides an occasion to work on the contemporary workplaces in today’s postindustrial world. A mix of the desire to represent, functional logic and profitability, a place for production and social exchange, contemporary work spaces bring together the desire to build an image with the need for comfort and environmental and spatial quality. We present two office projects in Zürich, one located in relationship with the landscape, in between the lake and the mountains defining Zürich’s natural profile, and a second high-rise building in Zürich Nord, a city area in expansion, where this typology is defining the new urban form.
Chair Prof. Dr. Josep Lluís Mateo