Close this search box.
PMS Kreuzlingen, Esther + Rudolf Guyer © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut. Explore more on

PMS Kreuzlingen

Picture of Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

North African desert fortress meets late-sixties pop in this ground-breaking brutalist school complex designed by Swiss architects Esther + Rudolf Guyer.

This concrete oasis in the Swiss border town of Kreuzlingen (Germany and Lake Constance are a stone’s throw away) is best visited on a hot summer’s day, when the architecture dissolves into dazzling abstractions on the surface of the central pool, while harsh shadows add geometric edge and drama to the three large yet minimalist school units. They are arranged around the main piazza, which provides an empty, open stage for student life. The earthy adobe tones of the structure are reminiscent of fortified cities in North Africa, while the street lamps and two fountains reference the era’s fashion for pop art and space age design.

To achieve the distinctive look, the architects developed a bespoke type of clay-pigmented concrete and used a bush-hammered finish. The exterior theme is continued inside, where material restraint and russet tones lend a slight air of a reformed church hall, while fixtures in bold orange add a youthful, futuristic spirit. Widely regarded as one of the most important brutalist educational buildings in Switzerland, the extension of PMS Kreuzlingen inspired many similar designs in the 1970s. A recent responsible refurbishment ensures the college remains at the top of its class.

Things get a little psychedelic in the music wing. Classrooms are named ‘Place of Irony’, ‘Place of Irrationality’ or a more sober ‘Cold’. The lessons of brutalist architecture never fail to expand the mind.
Unusually for a brutalist structure, PMS Kreuzlingen consistently receives top marks from students and staff alike.
PMS Kreuzlingen, Esther + Rudolf Guyer © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut. Explore more on

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

Neumarkt Brugg, Shopping Centre, Office Tower, Gabriel Droz, Brugg, 1971-1976, © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut, Swiss Brutalism. Explore more on
Ferro Haus, Pyramide am See, Justus Dahinden, © Karin Buerki/Heartbrut. Explore more on
Hardbruecke Bridge, Zurich, © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut. Explore more on