A Brutalist Expedition Across Switzerland
Carte Brute seeks to invite everybody to get to know and appreciate Switzerland’s 50 most important exposed concrete buildings
Exposed concrete architecture is omnipresent in Switzerland. It is part of our everyday life and part of our cultural heritage, just like music and art. Yet it has a bad reputation. Brutalist buildings from the 1960s and 1970s are often still considered “monsters”. Carte Brute aims to change all that: the double-page folding guide in A1 format encourages readers to rediscover Switzerland’s béton-brut landscape. It presents 50 concrete architectural icons from the beginning to the present day, from all parts of the country.
The Basel region is particularly well represented. One example is St Anthony’s Church in Basel, built between 1925 and 1927 by the architect Karl Moser as the first purely concrete sacred building in Switzerland. It didn’t go down too well with everyone at the time: in the early years, the building was derisively referred to as a “silo for souls”. Built between 1956 and 1961, the Brick Hall of the Basel General School of Trade is considered a highlight of post-war architecture. Designed by Hermann Baur and others, its geometric shapes make it look like a piece of origami, albeit with the dimensions of a nave. Another classic is the Neumatt school in Aesch. Built between 1959 and 1962 by Walter Förderer, Rolf Otto and Hans Zwimpfer, it features an open staircase around which the classrooms are arranged. As late as the 1980s, the building still regularly attracted architecture students. All this is made visible by Carte Brute, published last year by “Heartbrut”: on the one hand, this is an online platform that informs about and documents Brutalism in Switzerland. Heartbrut also publishes regular print editions. The creative head and founder is Zurich-based writer and photographer Karin Bürki, who has been working on this project for many years, true to the motto “keep it brut & beautiful”.