Westside Bruennen / Daniel Libeskind


Architects: Daniel Libeskind
Location: Bern,
Project area: 1,5 million sq. ft.
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Daniel Libeskind

© Daniel Libeskind

The Westside project, a new center for leisure and shopping in Bern-Brünnen, is an urban scale architecture project totaling 1.5 million sq. ft. In addition to the 55 shops, 10 restaurants and bars, hotel, multiplex cinema, fun bath with wellness center and housing, this mixed-use program radically reinvents the concept of shopping, entertainment and living. Since opening in October 2008, Westside has welcomed a record number of visitors – 1.5 million in the first three months – and currently sees about 15,000-25,000 visitors per day. The Westside project is a joint venture between ADL and Burckhardt & Partner, Bern with Rhomberg Bau AG/Strabag AG and was completed in October 2008.

model 01

Westside is one of a kind – a complex mixture of retail, residential and recreational facilities – an urban marketplace full of experiences that attracts visitors of all ages, interests and backgrounds. With its impressive location above the A1 highway, its direct connection to the tram and the BERNMOBIL transport network, Westside is a meeting place for the whole greater region of Bern. The development creates an exciting gateway into the city of Bern as it dramatically positions itself over the major highway and is integrated into the city with its own highway exit and train stop.

© Daniel Libeskind

The Westside project creates a unique integration of architecture and landscape on a large, urban scale. The several-layer wooden facade connects the city area with the countryside, while emphasizing Westside as a major destination. Right-angled and transverse cut boxes constructed from steal concrete with a prop grid of 8,10 x 8,10 meters create sophisticated rooms and generate different external areas at Westside.

© Daniel Libeskind

The concept of Westside was to create a public space with day and night facilities, a self-enclosed district offering endless amenities and services, almost like a city within a city. Westside is not only a landmark, but an urban organism which attracts the surrounding region, becoming a place of excursions, meetings and seminars, and leisurely activities. This mixed-use complex has all the conveniences and services of an independent town, yet at the same time is integrated into the city of Bern due to its location and convenient access to all modes of public transportation.

© Daniel Libeskind

The mall is the spine of the public space, offering an array of shops and restaurants. Stores such as Swarovski, Esprit, H&M, L’Occitane en Provence, Wolford and Kinderland can be found at the Westside mall. The design includes lower and higher rooms, alleys and two plazas where the changing of daylight can be noticed through roof cuts. The two plazas each have individual identities. One plaza, reflecting the day, is oriented toward the landscape and opens up at the other end to the bath. The other plaza, reflecting the night, connects to the cinema and the hotel while providing atmosphere for night life and catering.

concept sketch

The building design integrates the landscape and the different directions of the site while providing a unique look to the external areas. Extensive window cuts in varying designs open up the facade. This has the effect of creating either a panoramic window for the food court and wellness area or a web of natural light for the circulation area. Furthermore, the views allow you to see the highway, gateway to the living area, the railway tracks and the widespread landscape to the south. This is a unique outside element of Westside Bern-Brünnen. During the day the partly dark tanned window cuts contrast with the light wood facade. At night they are illuminated so that the parts of the structure disappear in the darkness, similar to a picture puzzle, so that from the outside the cuts are recognized as lines.

© Daniel Libeskind

The cubes forming Westside create openings to the many plazas as well as the bath. They are defined by crystalline form with angular sides which look like pieces of rock breaking through cube. The steel concrete construction is designed like a trapezoidal crystal where the structure creates openings, galleries and arcades, complete with shops and catering facilities. The interior is almost entirely plastered white. The grid structure of the crystal is covered with zinc plates at the points where it cuts the facade and the roof. Overall, the crystals and its plazas are designed like boxes; only the design of the glassine crystal of the bath is differing. The pattern of the mall’s alleys is never the same and it is not enclosed. Tentacled cuts create the spaces of the Mall at the facade and enhance the entrances and exits. The northern part of the mall leads to the forecourt of the train station, the senior residency, the hotel and the landscape.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Westside Bruennen / Daniel Libeskind" 10 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=101991>
  • Leonardo Ximenes

    After exhausting all his creative energy on the Jewish Museum, Mr. Libeskind is exactly were he belongs: designing shopping centers.

  • atilla

    Dear mr. gehry and mr. liebeskind
    thanks for some innovative works that you have done in the past. But now please get creative as your names deserve or get retired.

    • Jonas

      Oh Lord, give me patience!

      Bringing in Gehry to this discussion is nothing less than a major offence. Libeskind should have stuck to playing the piano. Basta!

  • Victor

    libeskind is no longer the same…thats a shame for the architecture world..

  • Jelle

    Come on, it’s a good project! Well put on top of a highway, a nice combination of functions and it seems to be very popular… An architect can pretend being the artist and only build museums and let retail and other ‘popular’ subjects look like shit – but be honest what’s more difficult: making a good-looking museum, or a good-looking tropic swimming paradise? Of course mr Libeskind made a lot of money with this one – I’m happy for him, and for the customers of this project that at least doesn’t look like a decorated shed or a duck.

  • Chad Mellon

    Clearly Libeskind knows nothing about what makes great urbanism. The 6th picture from the top (below the shot of the indoor pool), is particularly depressing. It looks like the bleak urban visions of Stalinist Russia. It is about as welcoming as a concentration camp. Random and meaningless diagonals cannot elevate the inhuman and drab prison-like aesthetic into the realm of architecture.

    • Kai

      It’s describes exactly what I felt when I was there. Thank you

  • K

    Is he a real architect? My 9 month old could just as easily have drawn those squiggly lines and called them a building.

  • m

    One of the best works of Libeskind last years!

  • archi

    Well… I suppose the timber cladding is a refreshing change…

  • http://on.fb.me/holcim-awards Holcim Awards US

    I actually like the timber cladding as well as the somewhat simple windows (at least simple compared to his other projects). Otherwise, once again this project lacks context and is just a rehashing of his same style. It is a shame he won’t try something new.

  • Jade

    It’s just another piece of schlockitecture from Libeskind’s seemingly interminable Incompetent Period. Cold, harsh, grey, lifeless and miserable buildings. It’s like he didn’t even bother to try.

  • Tom

    Libeskind says he created an urban public space? Did he ever visit or experience Piazza Navona in Rome?, or any pleasant park in Paris, or joyful square in London? Those are great urban public spaces. Westside is a miserable collection of jarring and hostile forms that repel rather than entice meaningful social interaction. Libeskind must be some sort of people-hating savage to have created this abysmal, scaleless lump. Let’s all stop calling this architecture. It’s bad, thoughtless building and nothing more.