02 July 2009

Too much for one day - Bern/Luzern/Zürich

Today was really hectic - the day started with just over an hour to see historic centre of the Swiss capital.
As I walked through the city's beautiful arcades it became clear why UNESCO has declared this entire area a world heritage site.
I love the heavy buttresses of the arcade! It gives the street a great character.We then went to Luzern (where we had decided to halt).

We made a quick visit to the city's famous Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke)
- a 204 m (670 ft) long wooden bridge originally built in 1333 -
I loved this bridge because it reminded me of many utopian living bridge ideas.I then headed to the Culture and Congress Centre (KKL) designed by Parisian architect Jean Nouvel
on my own (leaving the rest of the family who were on their way to the top of Mount Titlis).
The KKL with it's generous canopy and amazing position next to lake Luzern houses a concert hall
as well as the Museum of Art Lucerne (Kunstmuseum Luzern).
This is a great piece of contemporary architecture!After that I headed for a half day in Zurich where Seung Jeong (my dear friend from Seoul who is currently working in Zurich) had promised to show me as much as possible of the city once she had finished work for the day. Thanks to the length of the European summer day I was able to plan to see a lot of architecture in daylight : )

Since I had some some time to kill before she would get done with work - I decided to do a bit of an architecture tour of my own.
I started with the Heidi Weber Museum.
Sadly, this pavilion designed by Le Corbusier was undergoing some sort of renovation work and I had to contend with being able to see it only from the outside!
Next I headed to Stadelhofen Train Station designed by Santiago Calatrava
(this is probably his most Gaudiesque project, the terraced garden above the station is clearly his homage to the great master's famous Park Güell in Barcelona) .
It was now time for me to meet Seung Jeong and I saw this really cool tram station on my way to meet her.
we had decided that she would start by showing me the old industrial area of the city which is currently undergoing extreme transformation being converted into housing and new office spaces,
infact she works quiet close to this area.
The overwhelming influence of '90s Dutch architecture was most evident here as compared to any other part of Switzerland I have so far visited!
She then took me to see a great school project designed by Jacques Schader it was built in the years 1954-60.
The Freudenberg canton school (KFR) is one of the most important works of Swiss architecture in the second half of the 20th Century and has almost defined an entire era of architecture in Switzerland.
It is a listed building since 1987.
From what I know Jacques Schader was an architecture professor at ETH who unfortunately was able to built only a very few of his project.
This one by far remains his most important contribution to architecture!

We then went to see ETH
I was especially interested in seeing the urban terrace there with a commanding view over the city.
Our last stop for the day to see one of the many Public Baths in the city. I had heard that in summers life in this city is vibrant especially on the promenades along the shores of Lake Zürich (like the one below) and on the riverbanks
but sadly it was already getting dark and I was disheartened that I didn't have time to see enough of that vibrancy.

But Seung Jeong knew of one place that was sure to lift up my spirits and 'Rimini Bar' was it name.
Once we got there she explained to me that during the day, people relax by, in and on the water, and on a few days of the week after dusk this public bath (like a few others in the city) transformed into a bar and lounge offering a variety of cultural programs, ranging from readings to theatricals and concerts.
I couldn't have even imagined a better end to this great day!
Thanks Seung Jeong - I owe you one big time!

Here's a last image for the day - of the famous Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) in Luzern by night

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