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Describing Beauty

Caruso HS17

In this Semester we were allotted an artwork and had to submerge ourselves into the world of the artisan. My team received the 19th century Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin’s : “Saint Anthony’s Fish Sermon”. As this piece is meant as a key to unlocking this artist’s world, we decided to broaden our horizon and analyse his most prominent work „The Island of the Dead”.  In the process of our analysis we determined we would have to plan and build a model of the island to fully appreciate and understand it as an architectural project.


In the second part of this semester the artefact must be translated into a monument in Zurich. The site Sonnenberg is a vineyard that thrones above the city and the lake offers grand views of both. The grounds are surrounded by stuffy upscale living quarters appropriately labelled ‘the gold coast’ by locals. 


The project grows out of the duality of a superimposed facade vis-à-vis the manicured surroundings and the unfiltered raw interior just as can be observed in the oil painting of Saint Anthony and his fish; where the topic is the discrepancy between ones behaviour in public when being surveilled and how that differs when one believes they are out of sight. 

The fish all seem to listen to his sermon and repent their sins, but once Anthony is out of sight and the creatures of the sea are back in the open ocean, they start to devour each other just like before.


This space is a safe place where one comes to be surrounded with likeminded people and recede from the public life of everyday existence. To create a space for ones uncensored self that only rarely sees the outside, this design is excavated out of the side of the hill, leaving the room hidden in plain sight. The entrance to the complex is a silicone cast concrete copy of an ancient building’s portal that gives this space the appearance of legitimacy in the context of its neighbourhood; allowing for people to attend events inside without being exposed to prying eyes. Inside it is a raw cave much like a mine that is intended to help release one from all the discipline of civilized life.

Group Project in collaboration with:


Michael Prager

Aline Jean

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