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Carte Brute Switzerland & Zürich Feature on SRF 2 Kultur, February 2022. Explore more on

SRF 2 Kultur

Radio & Online Feature

For some, concrete is a sensual material – for others, just cold and destructive. Where does this love-hate relationship come from?

Photographer and writer Karin Bürki stands fascinated in front of  Triemli Tower at the foot of the Uetliberg in Zurich. “This is one of the most radical Brutalist buildings in Switzerland,” she says. “It’s like something out of a science fiction film.”

Bürki’s fascination is shared by others interested in architecture and design. The grey residential tower from the 1960s is a thorn in the side of the masses. In 2018, readers of the free newspaper 20 Minuten even voted it the “ugliest building in Switzerland”.

She wants to share her enthusiasm and has launched the format “Heartbrut”. On a website and on her Instagram account, she presents the concrete beauties in texts and images.

For this purpose, she is travelling around Switzerland, offering inspiration you can touch: two folding maps, the “Cartes Brutes”, each with dozens of concrete icons in Switzerland to discover for yourself.

There are many buildings dating from the 1950s to the 1970s: schools, churches, residential complexes, office buildings and cultural centres. All refined masterpieces in the spirit of Le Corbusier. The Swiss architect coined the term “béton brut” – exposed concrete – at the end of the 1940s, thus founding the architectural style of Brutalism….

Although new solutions are being researched: in its current form, concrete remains the most widely used building material in Switzerland. We won’t get rid of it any time soon. Simply rejecting it is probably too short-sighted. Concrete is not black or white, it is grey. Karin Bürki’s pictures show how diverse this grey can be.