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 extraterrestrial 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 clad in Cor-Ten steel – a nod to his client’s line of business. The material’s signature patina of rich, brownish red is the result of quick oxidising. It had a bit of a moment at the time. One of the biggest fans was artist Richard Serra, who used the rust effect widely for his monumental land art. Back to The Pyramid: the addition of copper-tinted protective glass windows completed its striking tone on tone effect.
Originally, two luxury maisonettes comprised the top tier. The monthly rent for the five bedrooms and sweeping lake views was 3000 Swiss francs (roughly 9000 CHF in today’s money). Now a private clinic, Ferro House suits patients who like to wake up from cosmetic surgery in a dream of a Dynasty-inspired room in plenty of beige.
Never the go-to choice for designing a functional building, 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.