September 28, 2016
Blumenhaus -- a mixed-used building in Zurich
A mixed-use program of office and retail, with private residences above, define the Blumenhaus. The building is an integral component of a larger effort by the city of Zürich to rebrand its Escher-Wyss district through a metamorphosis of new development, including green spaces, bikes lanes, and a plethora of new housing.
When Escher-Wyss is juxtaposed against the city center–which abuts Lake Zurich–industrial relics dominate; yet it is intertwined with the center, by the Hardbrücke railway station, in tandem with numerous trams. Stealthily slipping into this ‘rough’ yet regenerating urban context, Blumenhaus' façade is finished with enormous matte-aluminum panels, nearly each of which is punctuated by the silhouettes of hibiscus flowers, and inversely, reliefs of the same patterning. These custom-designed, and ornament infused panels were crafted through an industrial process of ‘stamping’ the patterning through, or imprinting it onto, the aluminum, by sheet-forming and cutting; a process that involved metal-workers.
The panels’ matte finish–and hibiscus flower silhouettes–lessens the lust of their shine, which allows their scale to recede when seen from afar, or at street-level. As the building ages, the oxidation process will add a weathered appearance to its exposed façades, allowing it to ‘age’ along with the area’s already ‘aging’ relics. Blumenhaus' materiality, thus acknowledges its context’s storied industrial past, yet its incorporation of technology is readily apparent, only upon second-glance.
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