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Two Institutions and the Institute

Prof. Eberle FS18

The site is positioned on a prominent plateau perched over the medieval downtown of Zurich, it is the location where logically a third main building for an institute should be positioned as its neighbours are the ETH  and University of Zurich main buildings. Yet the brief calls for an “Institute der Geisteswissenschaften“ [humanities] which is a constituent of the University of Zurich, consequently a building was designed that does not question the prominence of the two old institutions and takes its place in the second row of the city’s silhouette. This is expressed in the buildings visible mass being at the intersection of the Rämistrasse and the Kantonsschulstrasse, where it incorporates and strengthens the connection of the chain of pearls that is formed by the important cultural institutions in the vicinity, from the universities down to the Kunsthaus and  the theatre. Thus facing its urban responsibility of marking the beginning of the university district and creating a more defined campus. 


Between the existing faculties and the new institute there is a large terraced park that covers the facilities that do not require direct exposure to the sun i.e. lecture halls, the archives of the library and the kitchens for the dining hall, the work spaces and common areas all protrude out of the terrain to gain access to natural lighting. By means of advantageous positioning on the slope the result can be achieved that one can simultaneously enjoy great panoramas of the old-town while residing subterranean.


The centrepiece of the complex is the atrium where all the paths cross, professors and students on their way to lectures, the Zurichers on their way to grab a coffee in the garden-side café that overlooks the city. This is enabled by a concrete ribbed-plate ceiling construction that is anchored to the exterior load bearing facade and an interior wall from where it cantilevers into the pilar-less atrium.

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