Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

FERRO HOUSE (PYRAMID AT THE LAKE)

JUSTUS DAHINDEN, ZURICH 1970

© Heartbrut.com / Karin Hunter Bürki

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What if the Mayans had built a space station on Mars? But got angered by the Americans on the moon. A plan was made. They precision dropped the pyramid-shaped monolith within walking distance to Pavillon Le Corbusier and Lake Zurich in leavy Seefeld neighbourhood.

It may well look like a futurist temple dedicated to an ancient deity, but Ferro House’s extraterrestial looks are really all about the art of making a virtue out of necessity. Commissioned by Swedish metal company ‘Ferrolegeringar AG’, the business building had to adhere to strict building regulations stipulating higher floors to be scaled back. Architect Justus Dahinden came up with a pyramid-shape and clad it in Cor-Ten steel, as a nod to his client’s line of business. The material oxidises quickly, forming a patina of rich brownish-red rust. The other notable contemporary Cor-Ten fan was artist Richard Serra, who widely used the rust effect for his monumental sculptures. The copper-tinted protective glass windows create a striking tone on tone effect.

Originally, the structure featured two luxury maisonettes on the two upper  floors. The monthly rent for the 5-bedrooms and sweeping views on the lake was 3000 Swiss francs (meaning you would have to cough up roughly 9000 CHF today). Now a private clinic, Ferro House suits patients who like to wake up from surgery in a minimalist take on Dynasty in plenty of beige. It looks like, the Mayas have had their revenge.

Never the go-to choice for building a functional building for a client, Justus Dahinden was an ‘urbanotopian’ architect who floated above the restrictive dogmas of postwar modernism. Both a man of faith and an avid believer in ’function follows form’, Dahinden was on a mission to reconnect architecture with the spiritual and social essence of humans. His designs seek to strike an ideal balance between radical design and sound method. The Federal Institute of Technology Zurich graduate’s early output was informed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Antonio Gaudi and sacral architecture. In the ‘60s, he was one of the first to embrace and promote the theories and works of his avant-garde contemporaries Archigram and the Japanese metabolists. Notable works include ‘Schwabylon’ leisure-city in Munich, Rigi Haus in Weggis and Trigon village in Zurich Hottingen.


Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Ferro Haus (Pyramid by The Lake) Justus Dahinden, Zurich 1970, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
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