The Formwork

Contemporary architects

Annette Gigon, Mike Guyer: space in matter

“We like to imagine how materials can be ‘trained’ to form spaces, to resist gravity, defy the weather, to enclose and shelter people. We think of buildings as specific ‘crimpings’ of material on the earth’s surface – durable, beautiful, precise compositions of materials that can be permeated by air and light.
Architecture is material permanently joined, layered, poured, pieced together around space.”
Annette Gigon

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Kirchner Museum
Davos (CH), 1992

A museum for the work of the painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was built in the alpine town of Davos, where he spent the last twenty years of his life. The museum has been designed with great restraint and with reference to the detached flat-roofed architecture of Davos. The four exhibition halls are lit by wall-to-wall glass ceilings. The daylight enters not from above but sideways into the large overhead lighting spaces, unhindered by the thick layers of snow in winter. For night-time use of the spaces the skylights also contain an electric lighting system. The museum is clad with a glass facade consisting of a variety of transparent, matt and polished glass. The glass cladding plays with and processes the clear, bright alpine light. Depending on the different functions of the glass, its finish differs: clear and mirror-smooth in the lower hall, connecting the exhibition spaces to allow a view into the small park and the landscape, matt in the skylights to diffuse the daylight, and matt and profiled as a translucent facade cladding to cover the thermal insulation to the concrete walls. A layer of recycled glass fragments on the roof replaces the usual gravel and shows glass in its final state.

Löwenbräu-Areal, Residential Tower
Zurich (Switzerland), 2013

The Löwenbräu complex, a former brewery, is converted into a new urban ensemble with an enlarged arts centre, a new office building and a residential tower.
The 22 storey high-rise residential tower, with its large cantilever to the south, has one to four apartments per floor, all of which face in several directions.
The façades of the residential tower and the new east office building are clad in molded ceramic elements with black and red glazed finishes that refer to the colored brickwork of the existing buildings. Double aluminum windows with additional ventilation slits have an external pane of plain glass and an inner pane of insulation glass with blinds in between.
Newly developed turn and tilt lift windows are a special feature of the residential tower. Sliding up under the ceiling when opened, they allow for a large-scale opening of the room. Thus the interior can be transformed into an open loggia during a sunny day.

Würth Haus
Rorschach (CH), 2013

The Würth Haus Rorschach, situated between the shore of Lake Constance and the train station, houses a conference centre, exhibition spaces for the art collection, administration, workshops, a restaurant and a cafeteria. The greenish crystalline building responds to the unique location of the site with a structure that oscillates between transparency and shiny reflective surfaces that multiply the natural beauty of the setting. The architecture affords views out to the surroundings, glimpses into the building, and sightlines through it to the park and lake. The building reacts to its surroundings with lower and higher volumes and setbacks. A double glass envelope encases the building. The inner layer is made up of triple glazing and metal clad thermal insulation. The outer, ventilated layer is composed of offset greenish glass panes equipped with a thin mesh insert with a metallic luster. This creates a rhythmically articulated glass curtain that provides protection against wind from the lake and noise from the street and also against excessive heat and cold. The predominance of glass in the building materials is continued on the roof in the form of CIS photovoltaic panels.

Housing development Zellweger-Areal
Uster (CH), 2013

The Zellweger complex, set on a former industrial site, boasts outstanding landscape features. Two residential buildings of differing heights are aligned with the row of sycamore trees by the pond in the north and the tree lined course of the stream in the southeast. The two buildings create an L-shaped green area between them, with trees and works of art. Most of the apartments in both buildings have living/dining/kitchen areas that extend through the building, opening onto both the green inner courtyard and the pond or stream. The subtle angling of the balconies offers outdoor areas of varying depths and provides a formal echo to the large scale angled sections of the two buildings, adding a lively and sculptural touch to the volumes of these two housing ensembles. The solid construction has a rear ventilated facade that consists of layered, rhythmically offset and thermally modified spruce planks and prefabricated concrete bands, which protrude somewhat beyond the wooden cladding to protect it from the weather. At the balconies the concrete band projects further forward to form the parapet.

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