Basel, The Brutalist Heart of Switzerland
Brutalism in Switzerland? Concrete architecture enjoys a special status in this country. “Influenced significantly by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in the post-war period, exposed concrete architecture is still omnipresent in Switzerland today,” write the makers of Heartbrut, who want to “create a simple and contemporary approach to this important but still little appreciated piece of cultural heritage” and encourage people to “rediscover concrete buildings”. For this purpose, Heartbrut has specially designed a map, the “Carte Brute” – whereby the Basel region is well represented. We took a look at it.
“Carte Brute” presents 50 pioneering buildings from Switzerland’s rich concrete heritage. All epochs are brought together, from the Goetheanum in Dornach built in 1928 to the Bündner Kunstmuseum in Chur from 2016. Brutalism is primarily equated with exposed concrete; a somewhat simplistic definition, but one that opens up a broad architectural spectrum. The Basel representatives are quite impressive: one of them is St. Anthony’s Church in Basel by Karl Moser (1927), which is considered to be the first sacral building in exposed concrete in Switzerland. In between, there are post-war modern classics such as the Gewerbeschule by Hermann Baur and Hans Peter Baur (1961) or the Neumattschulhaus in Aesch by Otto Zwimpfer Förderer (1962). The Helsinki high-rise by Herzog & de Meuron on the Dreispitz also found its place on the map as a contemporary contribution. The double-page folding guide in A1 format encourages “exploratory tours across the diverse and high-calibre Swiss béton-brut landscape”. Karin Bürki’s photos, some of which are taken from somewhat idiosyncratically chosen perspectives, are probably not every architect’s cup of tea, but they nevertheless function perfectly as a source of inspiration for future brutalist expeditions through Switzerland.”