Swiss Positions Exhibit-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, April 13, 2012

Swiss Positions Exhibit

On Display 13-27 April, MMCH 303

The travelling exhibition entitled “Swiss Positions: 33 takes on sustainable approaches to building” is a collection of photographs of 33 key projects from the Swiss construction sector over the past twenty years, which all have something to do with the theme of sustainable development. Swiss architecture and engineering enjoy an excellent reputation and high visibility not only on account of the quality of technical expertise and the inventiveness of their designers, but also on account of a far-reaching concern with sustainable development.

The 33 projects selected for the “Swiss Positions” exhibition present architectural and engineering achievements of the past twenty years through the eyes of talented photographers. The exhibition explores different angles with regard to engineering techniques, materials, ecology and protection of the environment, while at the same time underlining the uniqueness of each achievement. What all these architectural works have in common, whether viewed from the technological, organic, vernacular or bioclimatic angle, or from the social perspective, is that they interact with the setting in which they’ve been created.

What is the decisive factor for practising responsible architecture? An urban environment, intact nature, a place of relaxation, a peripheral or rural location, or a place where people are on the go – does the site influence the architectural choices? Is it ecological materials or the energy performance that determines what makes the buildings sustainable? The exhibition demonstrates that sustainable development is not a ready-made formula, but rather one that brings together various architectural practices, giving rise to questions associated with both creativity and sustainability.

In Switzerland, architects like Herzog & de Meuron, Buchner Bründler and Diener & Diener are creating, renovating or rehabilitating the built-up environment with concern for responsible sustainable development. Their projects show that there is nothing that cannot be expressed by an inventive, visual architecture that retains its capacity for complying with demanding ecological and economic choices.

The person in charge of devising and managing the exhibition is Nathalie Herschdorfer, an art historian. It is presented by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in cooperation with Swiss embassies around the world.

In brief, what “Swiss Positions” has to show is:

- a selection of emblematic structures created in the course of the past twenty years as portrayed in the work of 25 photographers;

- the output of thirty architectural practices spread throughout Switzerland’s four linguistic regions;

- different avenues followed in pursuit of sustainable building; and - various problems arising out of the specificities of given sites.