I am very honoured my image of Triemli Tower was chosen to adorn the official poster and programme of the forthcoming exhibition Architectural Bijou or Eyesore? at the Swiss Heritage Center in Zurich. I will also feature in the show with a quote. With many thanks to Martin Stillhart of Stillhart Konzept, who designed the visuals, and Judith Schubiger, Director of the Swiss Heritage Center.
© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut, Stillhart Konzept, Heimatschutzzentrum
“The built environment is a matter of constant negotiation», the show notes state, before asking the key questions “What can or must be torn down to make way for something new? Who determines what is valuable and worthy of protection?” Triemli Tower, a stark brutalist icon of unbending radicalism, makes an ideal poster boy for exactly that debate. Voted “The ugliest building in Switzerland” by a reader poll led by 20 Minuten tabloid in 2018, the stark brutalist tower also boasts a big fan base. It has grown considerably thanks to the Brutalism revival, more nuanced media coverage and, not least, the tireless efforts of Heartbrut. Nevertheless, the residential tower from 1966 remains one of Zurich’s most controversial buildings to this very day.
Taking a light-hearted approach, the exhibition encourages us to look at the built environment and the different attitudes it inspires. It shines a light on debates and their key protagonists and even offers a crash course in architectural criticism. Visitors are invited to reflect on «beautiful design”, but also to take a clear stand, because each and every one of us is affected by architecture and city-making.
The Swiss Heritage Society is an independent NGO committed to the promotion of the built environment. It runs the Swiss Heritage Center at Villa Patumbah.
Karin Bürki is a Zurich-based writer and photographer. The head of Heartbrut takes a fresh look at Swiss concrete icons, inspiring new audiences for this important piece of Swiss cultural heritage.