Adaption Room Acoustics – Auditorium, University of Zurich

In the course of modernizing the audio-visual equipment at the University of Zurich, the technology of the 20-year-old underground auditorium in the Karl Moser building was renewed. At the same time, some of the flat wall panels were replaced with slotted ones, thereby again improving the room’s acoustics. The artist Adrian Schiess, who had developed the initial colour concept for the auditorium, adapted the scheme for the new panels. The finish was coated with a translucent, silvery chrome paint, augmenting the mirroring effect and the festive appeal. The colour depth and reflections vary depending on the observer’s position in the hall.

The work was completed by the beginning of the autumn term 2021. The next step will be to refurbish the shallow pool above the auditorium, which is an integral part of the whole project. The inside moulding and colour coating will be renewed.

Location Zurich, Switzerland

Programme Auditorium, 500 seats

Commission 2020

Planning/Construction 2020–2021

Client University of Zurich

Team G/G Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer Architekten (künstlerische Oberbauleitung) Collaborators: Auditorium: Pieter Rabijns
Water basin: Stefan Thommen

Contact architects Burkhard & Lüthi Architektur GmbH, Zurich

Cost Planning/Scheduling Bühler & Oettli AG, Zurich

Acoustical Engineer Applied Acoustics GmbH, Gelterkinden

Colours Adrian Schiess, Zurich

Other Paint treatment: Paints and Arts Rolf Pfenninger, Schlieren

Photos © Seraina Wirz

Auditorium, University of Zurich

A new, large auditorium that seats 500 people was constructed under the terrace on the valley side of the university building designed by Karl Moser in 1913/1914. The space serves both as a new auditorium and a second assembly hall. On weekends and during semester breaks it can also function as a conference hall for third-party rentals.

The auditorium is accessed via the former sculpture gallery on the ground floor. This space was previously used as an institute library and can be directly approached from outside and inside the university. The open gallery now functions as a lobby, with stairs in the alcoves of the vaulting leading down to the auditorium. Another wheelchair-accessible entrance and an elevator are located on the cafeteria side of the building.

Inside the auditorium the walls and ceiling are faced with colored panels, analogous to the spirit of the original interior design of the Moser building. The panels provide acoustic absorption and cladding for ventilation and electrical services. The artist Adrian Schiess designed the color scheme for the auditorium, consisting of light and dark pink, as well as tones of light blue and gray-green. To emphasize the festive quality of the space, the glass of the interpreters’ booths is printed with golden reflective patterns.

A skylight above the white projection wall provides the space underneath with daylight. Outside, both the raised skylight and a pool centered on the terrace indicate the presence of the auditorium below. The strong color of the basin contradicts conventional expectations of a natural green, which is used for the ponds in the neighboring gardens of the university. The basin with its reflective surface and artificial color resembles an independent, horizontal sculpture.

The walls facing the Künstlergasse consist of concrete poured in successive layers of various hues, from dark to light, which also references the ‘spacecontaining’ nature of the base. The top layers of the wall are only faintly pigmented, and the concrete surface of the terrace and the concrete rim of the basin are left in their natural tone. These thus form a contrast with the pure, strong color of the basin.

Location Zurich, Switzerland

Programme Underground auditorium with 500 seats, projection space, storage and technical spaces
remodelling existing lobby on the ground floor as access to the auditorium; coloured water basin on the terrace above the auditorium hall

Commission 1996

Planning/Construction 1996–2002

Client Building Office of Canton Zurich

Gross Floor Area 2‘545 m2

Team G/G Christian Brunner (Project Manager), Stefan Gasser, Michael Bucher

Site Management Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer Architekten, Zurich
Collaborator: Thomas Hochstrasser

Landscape Architecture Hager Landschaftsarchitektur AG, Zurich

Cost Planning/Scheduling Othmar Brügger, Davos

Structural Engineer SKS Ingenieure AG, Zurich

Colours Adrian Schiess, Zurich and Mouans-Sartoux, France

Photos © Heinrich Helfenstein © Gigon/Guyer

Extension of Workshop School Buildings Appisberg

The new extension of the “Appisberg Apprenticeship and Training Complex” comprises of a string of individual volumes along an access road, which is within the complex opposite the existing 1930s buildings by architects Pestalozzi and Schucan. This concept of sequence was defined through the position of the existing buildings. In keeping with the original open space concept initiated by the Mertens brothers, the centre of the complex remains undeveloped in the form of a vast open space which extends to the east, merging with the open landscape.

As the building volumes are aligned longitudinally concurrent towards the view, the panorama over lake and mountains is accentuated and left clear. With respect to their proportions, the new structures refer to those of the existing.

Both interaction and rhythm are generated through the spatial organisation of the new volumes in their relationship to the existing buildings. Subtle differences in the dimensions and form of the individual structures enrich the interplay. The greenhouse with its contrasting materiality signals the border of the site and the transition to the open landscape.

With the exception of the greenhouse, the remaining buildings are mainly constructed from in-situ concrete. The floor and ceiling slabs are supported by the load-bearing exterior walls and the structural service core. The robust materiality of the exterior walls and windows are to meet the high durability requirements of the workshops and educational training buildings.

Within the existing complex two colour tones are particularly predominant. The orange of the historic buildings contrasts to the various green hues of the surroundings: the dark green of the forest, the luscious green of the meadows, the yellow-green of the surrounding fields and the pale green of the distant hills.

The yellow-green tone of the new buildings adopts the colours of its environment. The bright intensity of the colour is achieved with a translucent finish. Despite multiple coatings the materiality of the concrete is still visible so that at close range a subtle colour play of green and yellow tones is discernible. Depending on the weather, light conditions and seasons, the volumes appear differently; they work in harmony with the natural surroundings or form a contrast to it.

Location Männedorf, Switzerland

Programme Extension of existing facility with four new buildings: Workshops, offices, greenhouse; Renewal of existing: workshop, administration/catering, accommodation

Competition 1998, 1st Prize

Planning/Construction 1999–2002

Client Gemeinnütziger Verein Appisberg, Abklärungs- und Ausbildungsstätte, Männedorf

Gross Floor Area 3‘611 m2

Team G/G Planning/Construction: Markus Lüscher (Project Manager), Mathias Brühlmann
Competition: Markus Lüscher, Simone Reiter

Site Management Caretta Weidmann Baumanagement AG, Zurich

Landscape Architecture Zulauf Seippel Schweingruber, Landschaftsarchitekten, Baden

Colours Harald F. Müller, Öhningen, Germany

Photos © Heinrich Helfenstein
© Harald F. Müller

Francis Bouygues Building, Ecole CentraleSupélec

On the plateau de Saclay, to the southeast of Paris, a cluster of universities and research facilities is emerging based on a long-term master plan. The new Francis Bouygues Building links the existing university with the new Gustave Eiffel Building, while its location also establishes a connection between the campus and the natural environs.

The new building occupies the entire plot with the exception of three volumetric setbacks that define the entrances. Two taller elements reinforce the corners along the street front and a patio with lush vegetation occupies the centre of the building.

The school is organized around a large, three-storey hall as a public space that connects the three departments and lends the building its identity. The departments, or Univers as they are called, are conceived as neighbourhoods with streets, lanes and squares, representing the motif of the city. The hall resembles an artificial topography that links the work areas and common areas on the ground floor and the upper levels, additionally creating a flowing, differentiated space that accommodates places of varying intimacy.

The façade is clad in enamelled ceramic elements with smooth, wavy or grooved surface textures. This architectural design relates to the surroundings, with the colours of the elements mirroring the departments of the school. In addition, the colouring of the modulated, shining surfaces responds to changes in the lighting, thus enhancing the visual impact of the building.

Location Paris Saclay, France

Programme University building, theatre, auditories, teaching and music rooms, laboratories, sports hall, restaurant, cafeteria, offices, hotel, underground parking

Competition 2014, 1st Prize

Planning/Construction 2015–2017

Client Kluster (Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France, Bouygues Energies & Services, HICL Infrastructure Limited)

Gross Floor Area 27‘400 m2

Competition Organzier CentraleSupélec

Team G/G Planning/ Construction: Pieter Rabijns (Team Manager), Elisabeth d’Aubarède, Dina Hool, Bryan Grossenbacher, Christoph Dober, Andy Gratwohl, Arend Koelsch, Milica Vrbaski
Competition: Pieter Rabijns (Team Manager), Martin Schwarz, Kathrin Sindelar, Christoph Dober, Martin Feichtner, Andy Gratwohl, Arend Koelsch

Contact architects Synthèse Architecture, Arceuil, France

Site Management Bouygues Bâtiment Île-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Guyancourt, France

General Contractor Bouygues Bâtiment Île-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Guyancourt, France

Landscape Architecture Bassinet Turquin Paysage, Paris, France

Cost Planning/Scheduling Bouygues Bâtiment Île-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Guyancourt, France

Structural Engineer Bouygues Bâtiment Île-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Guyancourt, France

Building Services Engineer EGIS, Paris, France

Building Physics Engineer AMOES, Asnières-sur-Seine, France

Fire Safety BTP Consultants, Villebon-sur-Yvette

Acoustical Engineer Jean-Paul Lamoureux Acoustics, Paris, France

Signage Integral Ruedi Baur, Zurich (Concept)
Bureau Brut, Paris, France (Planning/Construction)

Colours Harald F. Müller, Öhningen, Germany

Photos © Philippe Ruault
© Harald F. Müller
filmstills: © Severin Kuhn