Master Project

Heike Biechteler

Casa Mondiale in the Casa

Casa mondiale, Kalkbreitestrasse 33, Zurich

The exhibition the Casa Mondiale in the Casa Mondiale aims to question traditional forms of representations in architecture. Exhibitions on architecture often leave the impression that architects might have the only responsibility within a building project. The discipline of architecture is in fact a discipline, which is negotiated by many steak holders. All those perspectives and influences merge within an architectural project and should be represented within an exhibition project accordingly. A building is always a product by many narratives, may it be the clients`first idea, the architect’s design, the implementation of a statical concept, the building constraints and the preservation of monuments. The craftsmanship of a furniture by the carpenter, the building costs by the manager, the water and electricity by the building technology and the eventual adaption by the user. This reality is only partially applied in the representation of buildings in architecture exhibitions.

With the example of the recently finished building project Casa Mondiale in Zurich-Wiedikon, those perspectives and networks are aimed to be revealed within the exhibition context. The building site of the Casa Mondiale is not only a case study and exemplary project, which brings together diverse perspectives and influences, but can also be seen in an urban and political respect as essential for the continuous urban development and strengthening of a social diverse and heterogeneous multilayered city. The Casa Mondiale was originally built in 1959/60. Since its renovation in 2017 its been put under protection. The history of the site starts earlier. With the inauguration of the Wiedikon Station in 1891, only four years later, in 1996 opened a 4-storey residential building which also contained a restaurant. In 1958 the residential building gets replaced by a new building. The house was then foremost known because of its bar and concert house, ran by Tom Rist, until it has been sold and renovated by the Ponte Foundation.

It is the combination of a few things which make the Casa Mondiale to a specific and exemplary project. As a building the Casa Mondiale adapts very well to its neighbourhood. Its usage on the other hand is more complex and multilayered than it is visible from the outside. It seems that not only economical interests are prioritised, since one goal of the foundation is its social vision. This becomes seen by the subsidized apartments for persons with low income and the small, public stage in the ground level which serves for a meeting point within the neighbourhood. In the exhibition project these networks seek to be made visible, by showing that a building project is always connected to a huge political, economical and social complex design process, which can be only understood in its context.

This complexity seeks to be displayed within the exhibition through the specific perspectives and narratives by including ideally all steakholders. Also being aware, that this network can only be displayed inconsistently. Those different perspectives can be translated in different ways – may it be an interview, email, a protocol, a typical working tool or the static- sprinkler- or the fireprotection concept, a note, photographs, videos, models, events, etc.. The materials will be translated into the exhibition context to represent the different steakholders and their specific influence on the Casa Mondiale. By bringing those materials together into the exhibition context, our perspective and understanding on architecture can be sharpened. Each contribution is part of the narrative and has the same significance. In a higher sense the exhibition is also an appeal, which goes further than the profession of architecture: Each one of us has a big responsibility for our common habitat!


The exhibition concept

The participants receive a questionnaire of 15 questions. The questions will be answered by the perspective from each specific role and discipline, in order to understand the economical and social network behind the building process.

Each question will be answered based on at least two typical, representative communication tools, such as drawings, plans, sketches, photographs, objects, emails, etc., which display the selected sites and areas of the Casa Mondiale.

Not only is it the goal to show the different steakholders within the building complex, but also to question traditional forms of representation in architecture by trying to unfold and retrace almost documentarylike who is doing what and where exactly within a building project and transfer them into a new representational form of tradition.

In detail this means that all objects and exhibition materials on a specific site within the building will be also represented and referring to the actual space on site.

Heike Biechteler
(*1973) is an architect and scientific researcher at the Institute of Architecture at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Engineering and Architecture. Among others she started a conference format, which aims to generate a swiss-wide, cross-institutional discourse on the pedagogy in architecture education. The second documentation – a glossary on the relevance of schools of architecture for the society, has been published this spring together with Park Books. Presently she is investigating in the tradition of representation in architecture exhibitions by displaying a building of architecture as a discipline by many steakholders and perspectives – besides the architect itself.