18 November 2011


Back to Switzerland - twice in a year - no doubt the capital of Architecture...  in theory and in practice. There seems to be no divide between the thinking, drawing and the making of buildings. Why is that the anglo world came up with such a myriad of professions? Perhaps a class divide in the UK, a cultural divide in Australia, a pragmatic one in the US....  perhaps the always increasing technical demands to design and erect our buildings! What ever this might be, it is for sure that Swiss architecture seems to remain "integral" from conception to delivery - blurring the boundaries between mind and action, design and construction. Perhaps that is why the evocative volumes that I recently experienced work well from the distance (in an urban / landscape setting), to the proximity (the building quality materiality) and as you walk immersing into spaces with great attention to detail (the spatial and ethereal)...

There is no doubt it is that swiss architects and builders are obsessed with precision and attention detailing and delivering quality. In my view this is why swiss buildings are appealing - regardless of the scale and simplicity. The "perfect cube" prevails as the typology with endless possibilities - Swiss architects do not seem to get 'tired' of designing with cubes nor to be 'afraid' compromising good architecture by using such primary language! It all makes sense to me.... "señores! no le tengan miedo al cubo" - is what an old professor used to tell us in first year of architecture,  'folks, don't be afraid of the cube' referring to the work of Mario Botta (especially his early houses in Ticino) the idea was to firstly understand the space before moving into complex shapes and forms. Above all... "la arquitectura es el arte de los espacios"!

November's 2011 blogpost showcases the work of various inspiring architects, projects which I recently visited with by my girlfriend Carla and had the opportunity to fully experience including the work of Mario Botta, Theo Hotz, Tilla Theos, Annet Gigion & Mike Güyer, Diener & Diener, Betrix & Consolascio, Sumi & Burkhalter, Martin Spühler, Aurelio Galfetti, Herzog & de Meuron... and Le Corbusier! ... and the not so Swiss but equally admired for their bold presence in the hart of the Confœderatione Helvetica [meaning, dispersed in a the true federal spirit!] Santiago Calatrava, Nicholas Grimshaw, Renzo Piano and SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa).

Peter Zumthor's [Pritzker prize laureate 2009] pilgrimage is scheduled for later in the year! (I will contact you Johannes K. for a complete route! ;-)

Also, thanks to Prof. Manfred Breit for the very interesting morning at FHNW University and architect friends Marco Streuli, Sascha, Charlotte; also Steffen Lemmerzahl from SLIK Architekten and Johannes Kaeferstein.... and finally, my Swiss-Aussie friend Debora Barton for her architectural insights.

Enjoy the show,

My two travel buddies a camera and my sketchpad! - here only a handful of them:

 Carla, io dedico questo blogpost a te.

"Ho girato e ho rigirato
sensa sapere dove andare
ed ho cenato a prezzo fisso
seduto accanto ad un dolore
tu como stai?
tu como stai?
tu como stai?
non é cambiato niente no
il vento non é mai passato tra di noi
tu come stai
non é accaduto niente no
il tempo non ci ha mai perduto
come stai?"
[estratto del C. Baglioni]

Switzerland is a wonderful country to explore by foot, 'bicicletta' train, car, plane .... but way, way more exciting is by motorbike! I love getting on two wheels, feeling the topography, the weather, the always changing terrain, unexpected curves and hills... truly breathtaking, truly immersed in a sublime environment!

Copyright © Guillermo Aranda-Mena 2011


  1. Anonymous21.11.11

    Grazie Guillermo!
    It has been a pleasure to show you a few corners of my country and the city I live in.
    I look forward to many, many more adventures with you.

  2. Anonymous4.12.11

    I loved your blog, great writing, makes me miss home even more! You should
    become an ambassador for my country lol
    Glad you and Carla had such a great time :)

    Since my parents arrive tomorrow, I might not be able to catch up before
    xmas, but I wish you guys and your sister a merry xmas and happy new year!

    Catch you next year for sure! :)


  3. Anonymous7.12.11

    Hi Guillermo
    Great photos from Switzerland, you’ve been to several sites that we never made – but had hoped to get to – must go back again!

    Ciao, Robert

  4. Se viaja en el espacio, antes, en la mente y en el alma; para regresar ahí donde se han puesto mente y alma.

    Un pensamiento con cariño para vos Guillermo e Carla.


    Extraordinary photographs. I particularly enjoy the Black and White ones. Their sense of perspective, composition, light! and in others the presence of people or a person, like actors of your own stage in which you have frozen an image for eternal beauty!