Office Building of Swiss Re, Gotthardstrasse, Zurich

The Image of a Garden

Swiss Reinsurance Company
Stücheli Architects
1994 – 1999
Surface area 
1 400m2

The garden courtyard of this office building is situated in the centre of Zurich. A subterranean car park generates this entirely artificial site. The stonemason’s work on the granolithic concrete surface has, in combination with the perforated filtering concrete created an ornamented surface. A precisely shaped rectangle with iris-shaped strips takes the process of seepage and drainage as its theme. A three-metre high wall cuts through the courtyard space and establishes clear-cut, in same places openwork and transparent boundaries towards the adjacent properties. A copse of Katsura trees dominates the courtyard thanks to its foliage that changes its hues in quite a striking manner in the course of the seasons. The characteristic leaf form was used as the theme of the tree-grids and, in winter, recalls the absent foliage. A black water basin mirrors the crowns of the trees, the sky, and the façade of the transparent, glazed building. Seen from the offices, the elements of the courtyard recall a garden, an idyll in the midst of the town.

* A project by Kienast Vogt Partners