This is pure, stark, reinforced concrete prose. Ruthlessly exposing its industrial function, Swissmill is every inch a contemporary brute. The 118-metre tall silo not only holds the title of the world’s tallest operating grain elevator, it also stands smack-bang in Zurich’s hip culture district. 21 floors of barefaced concrete inevitably divide opinion. The main point of contention is not the architecture as such, but the hour-long shadow the high-rise casts on a nearby lido in the afternoon.
Love it or hate it, Swissmill supplies 30% of the national grain requirements. If you live in Switzerland, chances are high your flour, cereals and semolina have been processed here. The boardroom on the top floor affords unparalleled, panoramic views across the city, the lake and, on a clear day, even the alps. So far, Swissmill has resolutely resisted various attempts by local politicians and start-ups to decorate the facade.