Competition ETH Zurich, Rämihof

Since the extension of Semper’s polytechnic by Gustav Gull the institute’s main building faces up the hillside in the form of an emblematic rotunda framed by a commemorative courtyard. The modernisation of the courtyard surfacing and the car park beneath it provide an opportunity and a site to mirror the relationship between the technical university and the city. The desire to underscore the ETH’s global openness – this being the explicit aim of the study commission – is best expressed by transforming what is a courtyard for the institution into a plaza for the city.

In order to embrace the institute more firmly in the urban fabric and to free it from the “splendid isolation” of the commemorative courtyard it is necessary that the city reaches more into courtyard space. The oval plaza boundary, in combination with the rotunda, lends the plaza space a vibrant motion and a measured festiveness. The result, in the real meaning, is a “showcase” for the activities of the institute’s.

The more the plaza is legible as a topographical element (and the less as a garage roof), the more the feeling of its belonging to the urban fabric becomes self-evident. The trees add a new emphasis to the “natural ground” of the plaza, whilst lateral stairs connect the topography of the plaza with the atriums beneath it.

Competition: 2015, 2nd prize
Contributors: Nicolas de Courten (PM)
Address: Rämistrasse 101, Zurich
Client: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich
Programme: modernisation, courtyard and underground parking
Construction engineering: Dr. Lüchinger + Meyer, Zurich
Landscape architecture: Schmid Landschaftsarchitekten, Zurich
Traffic planning: Jordi-Riegg-Rombo, Zurich


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