Study Trip to Zurich

BouT organized its annual study trip to Zurich, Switzerland and Weil am Rhein, Germany from 13th -17th November 2019 with a goal in mind: to provide the students with international experience and exposure to technological innovations related to building technology. The site visits were carefully planned in order to give the students an overview of the complexity of architecture and its technical aspects. The contact with companies and selecting the site visits were a key step in organizing the trip. The trip was partially funded with the support from the Delft University Funds. With the funds provided, we could add a few extra site visits and lectures such as the Elephant zoo house and the Blumer & Lehmann company visit. A few social activities were also planned to provide breaks in between the tight schedule giving time for assimilation and social bonding among students. Twenty-two students accompanied by two professors from all over the world joined the excursion.

Starting with ETH Zurich’s innovative labs, the complexity of Shigeru Ban’s Tamedia office and the grandeur of Vitra’s Campus in Bassel, this year’s study trip was filled with interesting excursions. The trip was not only about the technical knowledge we could get. It was about realizing the application of our own work, how it could actually look like in real life. Experiencing this with other students with similar perspectives, allowed everyone to challenge their own beliefs and points of view. Apart from the site visits, the trip was also a good opportunity to get to know the rest of the class, tightening the connection between students from the first and second years. The following is a brief description of some of the sites visited during the trip. 

ETH Zurich

ETH, Honggerberg Campus, is located on the outskirts of the city of Zurich. The campus translates precisely the character of collaboration and integration between multiple disciplines. The visit mainly covered the ITA Institute of Technology in Architecture under the department of Architecture. The main lab, the Robotic Fabrication Laboratory, is located on the ground and first floor. It is a two-story-high lab with four robotic arms suspended from the ceiling, and several other equipments serving creation and production. The building that houses ITA was built 7 years ago in consultation with the professors in each chair resulting in an open assemblage of spaces for different chairs in this department.

Library of Law University 

The University of Law library in Zurich was built in 1909 and it was later renovated by Santiago Calatrava. With the exterior mostly left untouched, the interior courtyard was converted into an atrium with a central large glass dome and a mechanical collapsible solar sunshade to regulate the light and heat inside the library. The steel columns and beams form shelves that support the floor plates and allows the new structure to float over the existing building. The library is conceived as six oval rings, hung as an independent structure with a regular courtyard. 

Tamedia Office Building 

A jewel in the middle of the city was Shigeru Ban’s Tamedia Office Building. The façade doesn’t reveal a thing unless you peak and the lights inside are turned on. It is there, inside, where the wooden structure carefully designed by the architect is visible. The protagonist is the wooden elements inside, creating perfectly fitting frames that follow a kit-of-parts logic. 

Vitra Campus 

Vitra Campus is an impressive educational place where several famous architects showcase their own design expressions and serve as the perfect vehicle for the product research and production Vitra is known for. It is an ensemble of buildings, unique in every way, that has made the production site a true magnet for architecture connoisseurs and design enthusiasts. Every detail perfectly illustrates the design idea of the architecture and makes every visitor deeply overwhelmed by the atmosphere. Vitra Campus was one of the main highlights of the whole tour, a true architectural exhibition in life scale, deeply overwhelmed by the atmosphere created by the designer. 

The committee had a great experience organizing the trip with good results and amazing feedback. The trip was short and tight. However, in comparison to the experiences we got from the trip, it was all worth it. The excursions, tours, gatherings, they were all very inspiring and valuable for future references. Zurich met all of our expectations, even if we didn’t have any. We hope the next trip is as good as this one.

Image Courtesy – Study Trip Committee