Rediscover Zurich's most uncompromising brutalist icon

Triemli Tower, Triemli-Turm, Zurich, Brutalism. © Karin Bürki. Explore more on

 © Karin Bürki/Heartbrut, Poster design: Stillhart Konzept

"Bijou oder Bausuende" poster, featuring Triemli Tower by Heartbrut, © Marin Stillhar, Stillart Konzept

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut, Poster design: Stillhart Konzept

Karin Bürki

Karin Bürki

Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

The 43-metre-high Triemli Tower designed by Esther and Rudolf Guyer from 1966 looks like an extraterrestrial monolith that accidentally fell to earth. Its raw geometry defies fashions and times. Visible from afar, this solitaire does not even attempt to please or care about its rugged, weathered exterior. The residential tower is the antithesis of Zurich’s stylish perfectionism and the locals’ pronounced fear of shadow-casting high-rises. In 2018, the readers of the newspaper “20 Minuten” voted Triemli Tower the “ugliest building in Switzerland”.

With its radical anti-aestetics, the high-rise is probably the most uncompromising Swiss representative of Brutalism. Originating in the UK in the 1050’s, the movement set out to fight against the sleek surfaces of modernism. The British architectural theorist Reyner Banham defined the movement’s core characteristics as follows: 

 “What characterises New Brutalism is precisely its brutality, je-ne-m’en-foutisme, its bloody-mindedness.”

The architectural nudism dispensed with ornamentation and instead emphasised bold, geometric-sculptural forms. Its signature blend of in-your-face boldness, provocation and expressiveness polarises opinion to this day. At the same time, brutalist buildings are very photogenic. Thanks to Instagram in particular, the architectural style is back from the cold.

Take that: not only has the supposed monstrosity a worldwide following, but it currently also stars in an exhibition. Time to ditch the clichés. Leave behind the harsh exterior and you’ll find yourself in one of the elegantly cut, sun-flooded flats in which, thanks to the balcony in every room, you can chase the sun all day, panoramic city views included. This dossier is an invitation to rediscover Zurich’s most distinct raw concrete icon.

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