Architecture, Travel

Le Corbusier’s last building

[Ian Macready]
The Heidi Weber Pavilion

With a couple of hours to spare in Zürich on a sunny November afternoon a quick walk by the lake seemed in order and a trip to see if I could find the last of Le Corbusier’s buildings – a small pavilion that was intended to house his own artwork. The design was a bit of a departure for the architect because he eschewed his more typical concrete structures to build in prefabricated steel elements, infilled with glass or coloured enamelled panels, all underneath a free floating roof structure.  Unfortunately the little museum was closed for the winter. There has been some recent awkwardness over the ownership between Heidi Weber the original patron of the building and the city of Zürich: the land was granted by the city for 50 years from 1964 and in May of this year the city took over ownership of the building.

Just before reaching the Heidi Weber Pavilion there were a couple of other interesting buildings that stood out – a strange pyramid clinic built by Justus Dahinden and an empty office building, having just been refurbished, of concrete with bronzed glass windows that was reflecting the autumn colours rather nicely.  A quick google search showed up the architect of the building to be Eduard Neuenschwander, a local architect who died in 2013, who had once worked with Aalto in his Helsinki studio in the early fifties and was a well respected Swiss Modernist. His Magnus Opus  – a large school campus Rämibühl – was about a further twenty minutes work away. In the fading light, I managed to take some snaps of the school up on a wooded hill in an affluent (well there do not seem to be any other types of neighbourhood in town to be fair) district of the city. There was some controversy over the building of the new part of the school because it required the destruction of 8 smart villas. The project took up ten years of his life from 1960 – 70 and he was able to integrate the campus so that the trees and the natural character of the location were extensively maintained. Indeed Neuenschwander’s work is part landscaping and part architecture and he later went on to landscape a park for the University of Zürich. He was also a great conservationist and had been active in preserving key parts of the old town of Zürich. Neuenschwander is new to me and from the internet the private houses and his own studio out of town in the Gockhausen district seem to be definitely worth a look. I’ll probably need more than a couple of spare hours to find them.



The glass and steel framed building by Le Corbusier
Concrete is restricted to the vertical circulation element
Justus Dahinden's Pyramid Clinic
The office and residential building by Neuenschwander from 1972
The view of the building from the Lake
Some very nice autumn reflections
The corner of the building
The Rämibühl school building
The entrance to the school theatre
The mathematics building on the campus
Another view of the school
An image of the school when just opened 45 years ago
The landscaping project for the University in 1986