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Monday, June 11, 2012

Löwenbräu-Areal



Löwenbräu-Areal in Zurich, Switzerland by Gigon/Guyer & atelier ww, 2012

Recently I received a press release indicating that "Switzerland’s leading contemporary art organisation, the Kunsthalle Zürich, will open to the public for a preview week between 10 -17 June 2012 in its new permanent home within the Löwenbräukunst. The official reopening will take place in August 2012." The Löwenbräukunst, it turns out, "also houses the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst and a number of international leading galleries." But it is also part of the larger Löwenbräu-Areal, which is comprised of the arts center, a residential tower, and an office building.

Design by Zürich-based architects Gigon/Guyer with atelier ww, the project is, not surprisingly given the name, the renovation of a former Löwenbräu brewery. Existing galleries are added to, and the office and residential buildings are new, from the ground up. In the top rendering, the pieces from left to right are the arts center (white), residential tower (black), and office building (red). As the photo above left attests, the gallery addition is complete while the other elements are still under construction, expected to be complete later this year.

The arts addition is a minimal, smooth concrete volume above the existing brick building at the site's southwest corner. On the north, the concrete box extends to the ground, such that old and new are two interlocking volumes. The apertures in the concrete walls are few but fairly large. Within the white-box gallery spaces, the openings have a sizable impact, as can be evidenced in the photo at left.

Where the gallery addition is solid and colorless, the residential tower and lower office volume are punctuated by regular grids of windows in respectively black and red facades. Their power lies in the way they are sited on either side of a central courtyard. The residential and office buildings also interlock with the existing brewery to create this space, almost touching each other at one corner. Inside, the regular grid of openings is made special by operable windows that retract inside like garage doors.

Photographs are by Thies Wachter.

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