The country set amidst astounding natural landscapes; Switzerland has been a popular tourist destination for years. However, it also holds a long and influential history of architecture that engaged different movements and styles. With time, several architects and designers have addressed and guided the course architecture not only within the country but beyond. Tracing a journey back in time, here are 15 such architects from Switzerland whose vision and work has proven pivotal over the years and continues to inspire today.

The list is arranged alphabetically, and in no particular order of ranking.

1. Alfred Roth

An enthusiastic supporter of the modernist movement, Alfred Roth the architect from Wangen who started studying architecture under the guidance of Karl Moser. With his help, he started his journey working for Le Corbusier and working on projects such as residential buildings at Wissenhof, League of the Nations in Geneva. He also worked with Alvar Alto in later years. His contributions to the field of architecture extended with his work as an editor for an architectural magazine Werk from 1943-56. With his practice, he worked across Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, and the Middle East.

2. Albert Frey

The Zurich born architect has been attributed to the ‘desert modernism’ which he developed through his designs specifically in the Palm Springs, California. After completing his architectural studies with a focus on the technical subject at the Institute of Technology in Winterthur, Switzerland, Frey worked briefly in Zurich. With time he inclined greatly towards modernism, following which joined Le Corbusier’s office in 1928. Years later, he moved to the US where he began working with A. Lawrence Kocher. Besides their architectural interventions, the duo contributed significantly through their published work in Architectural Record concerning different virtues of architecture and urban planning. His work also included his work with John Porter Clark from 1935-1937 in California, after which he shortly worked on the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As the World War two ended, the nature and number of projects surged in Palm Springs which came as an opportunity for Frey and Clark. It was during this period; Frey evolved his desert modernism in collaboration with Clark which lasted more than twenty years. His distinguished projects are Cree House, Loewy House, Palm Springs City Hall, and Salton Bay Yacht Club to name a few.

3. Aurelio Galfetti

Aurelio Galfetti has been a prominent name alongside Luigi Snozzi, Mario Botta, Livio Vacchini, with whom he also collaborated on a variety of projects throughout his career. Born in 1936, Galfetti studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. To establish his practice, he set up his studio time and again across different Swiss cities namely Lugano, Bedano, Bellinzona, and Geneva. He also taught briefly at École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in 1984. During his journey, he established an academy of architecture in Mendrisio with Mario Botta, where he not only taught but was also appointed as a director from 1996-2001. One of his most renowned projects is the restoration of Castlegrande at Bellinzona. Like many other projects that he executed, the design for the project juxtaposes the traditional attributes with the newer needs.

4. Bearth & Deplazes

The architects Valentin Berath and Andrea Deplazes are based in Chur and studied at the ETH in Zurich. With their prime area of work in public buildings such as administrative offices, residential buildings, the architects also engage in teaching at reputed architecture schools. While Deplazes has taught at HTW Chur, ETH Zurich, USI, Mendrissio, Bearth has taught at Universita di Sassari. Amongst their work Pool, Spa & Sports Center Ovaverva, St. Moritz, Natural Science Building, Chur, ÖKK Headquarters, Landquart, Federal Criminal Court, Bellinzona are some important designs.

5. Bruno Giacometti

Bruno Giacometti was born and raised in a family of influential artists. Giovanni Giacometti, his father, was a painter, one of this his brother Alberto Giacometti was a sculptor and another Diego Giacometti, a furniture designer. Based in Zurich he manifested projects which were diverse such as Institute of Hygiene and Pharmacology in University of Zurich, Museum of Natural History the city of Chur, district hospital in Dielsdorf. However, his most renowned project was the Swiss pavilion he designed for Venice Biennale.

6. Ernst Gisel

Beginning his journey with Alfred Roth in 1944, Ernst Gisel embarked on the journey of acquiring numerous awards. Starting his practice with Ernst Schaer in 1945, projects such as churches, residential complexes, and competitions were designed. He taught at ETH during 1968-69 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2004 for his contributions to the field.

7. Hans Fischli

The multi-faceted architect born in Zurich worked in the domain of graphic work, paintings, sculptures, and exhibitions. He studied initially in Zurich but later pursued his work at Bauhaus in 1928. His practice based in Zurich flourished through 1933-1976. Beyond this, he was appointed as a director of the Arts and Crafts Museum in Zurich. From time to time he supported different artist groups and alliances in Switzerland.

8. Livio Vacchini

Livio Vacchini known for his coherence was a prominent architect from Switzerland. With an initial work based abroad, he established his studio in Locarno. His work was strongly driven by research with a strong inclination towards modernism. He also became a part of Tendenza in the region of Ticino which highlighted the concerns regarding spurging urban growth in the region. It was conducted in lead with Livio alongside Mario Botta, Luigi Snozzi and Aurelio Galfetti. His collaboration was Luigi Snozzi however, on several architectural projects was noted through projects such as Palazzo Fabrizia in Bellinzona and Casa Patriziale in Carasso.

9. Luigi Snozzi

The Swiss architect born in Mendrisio in 1932 studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He has taught at the reputed Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and currently teaches at the University of Sassari, Sardinia. His work pans throughout Lugano and Locarno, which is embedded with his interest in history. He has taken this further with restoration projects in the Ticino region. He worked closely with Livio Vacchini after which he designed projects such as Quartiere Monrenale, Elementary School, Cemetery and houses such as Casa Stefano Guidotti, Casa Cassina, Kalman house, etc.

10. Max Bill

Known for his ardent efforts in co-founding Ulm School of Design, Max Bill accomplished many such achievements under his tenure. He studied at Bauhaus and his designs such as Ulm Stool, dials of Junghans wristwatches, clocks were appreciated widely. He led the department of architecture and product form at Ulm 1952 onwards and through later years worked as a chairman of the Bauhaus- Archiv e.V. His work in the field of design has been remarkable for which he was awarded “Praemium Imperiale” in Tokyo in 1993.

11. Max Ernst Haefeli

Max Haefeli is popularly known for his pioneering work for the ‘new movement’, a movement in architecture before WW I. He studied with Karl Moser at ETH Zurich and gained his initial experience through his father’s work. However, he established his practice later in 1926. His work as a furniture designer was also critically acclaimed which includes the ‘type furniture’ series.

12. Rino Tami

Born in 1908 in Monteggio, Switzerland, Rino Tami primarily completed his education in Lugano through the early years, until 1927 when he studied architecture in Rome and consecutively at Federal Polytechnic of Zurich in 1934. During the span of his career, Rino mostly executed projects in the Ticino district of Switzerland, which were residential, religious, educational and commercial. Alongside establishing his firm, he also taught at the Federal Polytechnic of Zurich for 4 years. Some of his notable work includes Ticino Cantonal Library, Cinema Corso, UBS bank headquarters, Church of Risen Christ, which were based in Lugano. Another commended work under his guidance was the motorway works, for which he was appointed as an aesthetic consultant.

13. Theo Hotz

Based in Zurich, Theo Hotz worked with architects such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano during his thriving career. Primarily designing in the Swiss regions, Theo contributed significantly through his work in shaping the architectural landscape. His notable projects are Basel Trade Fair complex–home of Art Basel, Telecommunications Operation Center in Zurich, Postal Operations Center in Zurich, to list a few.

14. Tita Carloni

Tita Carloni was an important architect and politician from Switzerland. After studying architecture at Polytechnic of Zurich in 1954, Tita worked with prominent architects Rino Tami, Peppo Brivio and Boileau et Bourdette until 1956. As he started his practice with Luigi Camenisch the same year, his approach towards the designs began to evolve with a radical understanding of site, materials, details with spatial harmony. As his career progressed, he excelled with his work which also included collaborations with Luigi Snozzi and Livio Vacchini. He also taught history and theory of architecture at the University of Geneva from 1968-1991. His projects located in different cities across Switzerland are Balmelli House in Rovio, Arizona Hotel in Lugano, School Center in Stabio, OTAF institute in Sorengo, among many.

 15. Valerio Olgiati

Son of the famous architect, Ridolf Olgiati, Valerio Olgiati, worked independently in the field and became recognized for his designs to merge the difference between outside and inside, creating a congruent design. He studied at ETH Zurich and started his career with a practice in Los Angeles with Frank Escher in 1993 however he returned to Switzerland with a new office in Zurich. Among his renowned projects is the Yellow House, which was an old 19th-century house converted into an exhibition space and won him many accolades. Other noted designs are Plantahof Auditorium, National Park Visitor Center Zernez, Atelier Bardill. In the year 2008, he moved back to his hometown Flims where he continues his practice to date.

References:

www.archipicture.eu/Verzeichnisse/2%20ArchitectByName.html
www.vitruvio.ch/index.php
peoplepill.com/people/luigi-snozzi/
hiddenarchitecture.net/bellinzona-bathhouse/
architectuul.com/architect/albert-frey
www.espazium.ch/it/attualita/biografia-di-tita-carloni
www.fondazioneaat.ch/index.php?page=36
books.google.co.in/books?i
www.bauhaus100.com/the-bauhaus/people/students/hans-fischli/

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

Mumbai

Aditi Sharma is an architect, researcher and amateur photographer based in Mumbai. Through RTF she is expressing her ardent thoughts in the domain of culture, history, gender, and architecture.

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