Venice Biennale 2012: Switzerland Pavilion

© Nico Saieh

After being nominated to represent Switzerland at the 2012 architecture biennale in Venice, architect and university professor Miroslav Šik decided to join forces with two other swiss firms -Knapkiewicz + Fickert from Zurich and Miller & Maranta from Basel- with whom he has been working together for many years. They have created what they call “an ensemble and atmosphere approach to urban architecture”, and decided to illustrate these concepts by putting together images of their own buildings and projects to create a collage-style exhibition.

See more pictures and read the architect’s description of the pavilion after the break: 

A newly created or redesigned building invariably enters into a dialogue with its immediate environment through its design, the mood it evokes and its function, even if the construction appears to be fragmentary or peculiar. Understanding the characteristics and identity of an everyday location, allowing them to permeate any new design and blending old and new to a lively ensemble require a great deal of empathy, high architectural skill and a profound knowledge of local historical and architectural traditions.

© Nico Saieh

Designing new units within an existing ensemble does not call for the imitation of a given urban pattern, but requires an interpretation of the location against the background of past and proven solutions, moderate modernisation and the use of unfamiliar elements to add a new flavour to the atmosphere of the whole.

The aim is an ensemble with a strong spatial effect and a distinct mood, to turn a historically grown mix of soloist constructions into an orchestrated whole. Such an approach to design and architecture enables a contemporary as well as continuous form of urban development, beyond modernism and postmodernism.

© Nico Saieh

If on the other hand the element of dialogue is neglected, if fashionable event and star architecture is the applied approach, the result may be beautifully formed and spectacular, but stands alone without relation to its surroundings. The sum of such buildings is chaos instead of an ensemble and, ironically, a further step towards global monotony.

The mural/collage is the work of photographer Michael Zirn and his team, who have transformed the Pavilion into a huge camera oscura, with a sequence of images developed all along the walls.

© Nico Saieh

Miroslav Šik and his associates composed the image files, featuring a combination of their existing projects, in digital format. They were then handed over to Michael Zirn, who cunningly transformed them into photographic negatives and transposed them onto the walls of the Pavilion. Zirn adopted a very traditional analogue technique: the photographs were developed, however, not in the classic 20x30cm format but on 280m2 of wall space, to create probably the largest analogue photograph ever displayed on a wall.

Zirn and his colleagues Joachim Seinfeld and Claus Feldmann worked in giornate, as if creating a fresco painting, covering an area of 25/30 m2 each working day. A light-sensitive emulsion was first applied to the area of wall concerned and the enlarged image was then projected onto it. After a given exposure time, the image was developed to achieve the final result. Working day by day in this way, they have composed this huge analogue panorama, a virtual city destined to exist only within the walls of the Swiss Pavilion.

© Nico Saieh

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Nico Saieh. "Venice Biennale 2012: Switzerland Pavilion" 17 Sep 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.