Architecture

Switzerland is a fertile breeding ground for architects, producing some of the most acclaimed names in the field, such as Le Corbusier, Mario Botta and Herzog & de Meuron.

The outside pool of the Vals Thermal Baths
The Vals thermal baths (Canton of Graubünden), external bath in the steam. © Thermes de Vals, M. Spiluttini

In spite of its small size, Switzerland has produced a considerable number of world-renowned architects. The most famous is Le Corbusier, who was born in La-Chaux-de-Fonds in 1887. He was a pioneer of modern architecture and made it his life’s work to design functional dwellings in urban spaces. His best-known works are the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Cité Radieuse in Marseille, and the Indian town of Chandigarh, which was almost entirely designed by the Swiss architect. Examples of his work can also be found in Switzerland, such as the Clarté building in Geneva, the Villa Le Lac in Corseaux, the Maison blanche in La-Chaux-de-Fonds and the Corbusier Centre in Zurich.

The post-war years saw the emergence of the “Zurich Group”, whose members were alumni of the School of Architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). They included Werner Frey, Jacques Schader, Jakob Zweifel and Franz Füeg, whose designs include the Pius Church in Meggen (canton of Lucerne) and the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL).

In recent years, it is the work of Mario Botta, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Peter Zumthor and Bernard Tschumi that has captured the imagination of people around the world. Mario Botta is behind the breathtaking Alpe Foppa chapel (canton of Ticino) and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Herzog & de Meuron designed the Tate Modern in London, the Olympic stadium in Beijing and the Roche Tower in Basel. Peter Zumthor is behind the Thermal Baths in Vals (canton of Graubünden), while Bernard Tschumi designed the Acropolis Museum in Athens.