I think youíre partly right concerning the selection boards. I read several times through the Swiss forum that we donít have good architects. But thatís wrong. On the contrary, Switzerland has a lot a very good architects. It is therefore legitimate to ask why so many projects in our country have such a poor design.
In my opinion, these are some of the reasons:
1. According to the architects, building rules are more and more restrictive. It would therefore be interesting to know in what way these rules prevent creativity.
2. Public investors or purchasers are typically very conformist and prefer proven formulas over risk.
3. Still too often, the Swiss donít have a great understanding for creative work. Thereís little respect for architectural design. Architectural design depicts the city, as opposed to the countryside. As we all know, the Swiss donít like (real) cities.
However, it is not possible to generalise on the situation. For example, in Geneva you may find very good design for social
, cooperative, health-care
housing, where you would rather expect something cheap.
For example, in Lausanne, the award winner for a housing block had to entirely redesign it probably in order to make it more profitable. Although the original project
was a very interesting design object, the final version
was no more than a pious platitude. So, why to award an architect and then destroy his work?
Based on my observations, it must be concluded that the most interesting architectural interventions may come from private bodies and institutions, which donít pursue a return on investment in relation to the construction itself, though again
it is not possible to generalise.
For example, in Geneva, JTI
is currently completing a new wonderful headquarters building designed by the star architects SOM. During these last years, the FIPOI financed very nice buildings for various international organisations (WMO
, WTO, WIPO
). Other quality constructions are expected. Some private investors requested French architect Dominique Perrault for the largest private project in Switzerland: an entire neighbourhood in Vernier (líEtang
) with a quite unconventional design. The famous Danish architecture office 3XN designed the new Olympic Headquarters
: a very nice peace of art. In a larger scale, SBB also seems to priviledge high standards in the whole country.
Housing projects leaded by public institutions certainly suffer from economic reasons, at the opposite of cultural buildings
that enjoy the cantonís largesse. However, donít we say that restrictions boost creativity? Yes, provided that jury members are able to perceive it, which clearly isnít always the case. In Switzerland more than elsewhere?