Lighting the blue touchpaper and building well

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Platt, Christopher ; Spier, Steven (2009)

This is one of two papers examining the reasons why contemporary Swiss architecture is consistently of international quality and held in such high regard (the other being 'Seeking the Real: The Special Case of peter Zumthor'). Swiss architecture has long been known for the high quality of its construction as well as its understated architectural presence. The reasons for the former are manifold and while this paper touches on them, it primarily looks at how that affects the design process. It does so by case studies of three different types and generations of practices in German-speaking Switzerland--an important emerging practice, a well-regarded and established one, and a world-class architect. Through face-to-face interviews the offices’ principals describe how they begin to design and how being able to build well effects their approach. A variety of themes emerge, including cultural relationships and trust, internationalism, craftsmanship, problem solving, involvement with the realisation process, authorship, collaboration and intuition. Particularly telling are the lessons learned from their individual experiences in building in Switzerland and in Germany.
  • References (21)
    21 references, page 1 of 3

    1. Frank Lloyd Wright, In the Cause of Architecture (1928), ed. by F. Gutheim, reprint of Architectural Record essays (New York: McGrawHill, 1975), p. 153 in R. McCarter, Twentieth Century Houses, Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1997).

    2. M. Murray and D. Langford, Construction Reports 1944-98, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003) in Architect's Handbook of Construction Management M. Murray and D. Langford (London: riba Enterprise, 2004).

    3. Ibid., p. 4.

    4. For instance see Christopher Powell, 'Quality: A Perspective from Construction History', arq, 11.3+4, (2007), 321-24.

    5. A. Toynbee (1964), 'Is America neglecting her creative minority?' In Widening Horizons in Creativity: The proceedings of the fifth Utah Creativity Research Conference, ed. by C. W. Taylor, pp. 3-9. (New York: Wiley, 1990) cited in R. Ochse, Before the Gates of Excellence - The Determinants of Creative Genius (Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1990) p. 45.

    6. R. Ochse, Before the Gates of Excellence - The Determinants of Creative Genius, p. 185.

    7. Ibid., p. 187.

    8. R. J. Sternberg, 'What is the Common Thread of Creativity? Its Dialectical Relation to Intelligence and Wisdom', American Psychologist (April 2001), p. 360.

    9. Peter Zumthor , 'A Way of Looking at Things', Thinking Architecture (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006), p. 7.

    10. Ibid., p. 18.

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