Forma parte ya del lenguaje cotidiano denominar Zona Cero a aquel espacio (físico o no) que ha sido objeto de un acontecimiento de tal magnitud que, automáticamente, pone el contador a cero en la historia particular de ese sitio (físico o no): primero para que no se olvide y, segundo, para que todo pueda ser reformulado desde ese nuevo punto de partida. El momento actual de crisis generalizada puede convertirse (si no lo ha sido ya) en la Zona Cero para la arquitectura en nuestro país: un espacio de tiempo, concreto, a partir del cual nos veremos obligados a buscar nuevos caminos. / Forms part of everyday language to call Zero Zone to that space (physical or not) that has undergone an event of such magnitude that automatically sets the counter to zero in the particular history of that site (physical or not): first so that is not forgotten and, second, so that everything can be reformulated from this new starting point. The present time of general crisis can become (if it has not already been) at Zero Zone for Architecture in our country: a space of time, concrete, from which we will be forced to seek new ways.


Patrick Gartmann, his own housing in Chur
It is no coincidence that the first entry in this logbook has been dedicated to a Swiss architect. As I mentioned in that first post, contemporary Swiss Architecture presents a general level it might be found only in countries -curiously and also- with a moderate size such as Portugal and Japan.
I intend, in what follows, to offer anyone interested in following the European Architectural scene, an approximation to the Swiss “fact”, on the basis of publications (books and magazines) that tell us the Helvetic way of making from the point of view of Architecture. I have taken, as first references, various Spanish publications: Arquitectura Viva, AV, El Croquis and 2G, in order that this first approach results more immediate for any interested reader and, at once, with the idea of finding out how Swiss Architecture is observed from a distance of local publications: how it is being seen (and being read) the Architecture of there from here.

In Spain, the interest in contemporary Swiss Architecture begins to become evident with the publication, with more or less continuity, of several Swiss projects in some professional magazines. In 1995, the younger sister of AV (now quite grown up) Arquitectura Viva, devoted his No 41 to the recent Swiss production titled Zero Degree, by referring to this heading to one of the most important characteristics of the recent Architecture in Switzerland: its presence almost naked; freed from everything that is not a constructive rigor and geometric precision. Question that, as we will see later, will become –besides the tag of the well-known minimalism- in the long term, and unfortunately, into a cliché. In this first publication intended for, in full, the Swiss Architecture, two introductory texts stand out with authors of the hight such a Stanislaus von Mos and Peter Buchanan. The first of them establishes the term "new simplicity" to describe the recent production of the Confederacy; interestingly, both critics agree his texts on the importance and impact that the Architectural Competitions have acquired in Alpine country.
The issue features the work of six Swiss architects, all belonging to the group known, here, as a "the Northern Swiss ", that is, those who work in the cantons of German-speaking: Herzog & de Meuron, Diener & Diener, Gigon / Guyer, Burkhlater Sumi, Jüngling & Hagmann and Peter Zumthor. Of these, the oldest: Herzog & de Meuron, Diener & Diener (formed team, at that time, father and son) and Zumthor, present at the time of this publication, a sufficiently established career in Switzerland; that in the case, and fundamentally, Herzog & de Meuron, Gigon / Guyer and, of course, Peter Zumthor lead them in a short time, to be considered worldwide reference architects. The particular case of the tandem Herzog & de Meuron, today and when we see it in perspective, it would require, all to themselves, a delivery by volumes, as what began as an association of two recent graduates with the time contribution of various local artists, is, today, as a factory to make projects with offices around the world. Much has happened since then, but the H&M seem to be safe of all and still, even from this megastudio, developing extremely interesting works "house brand".

We jumped from 1995 to 2000 to a publication that, to my knowledge, results principal to follow the thread of this exciting Architecture: Building in the Mountains, Recent Architecture in Graubünden, 2G review, GG Publisher. The publication presents the work of several architects of this great Swiss canton, located at the crossroads bounded by the borders with three neighboring countries: Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy; it has got a typical alpine landscape of high mountains, deep valleys, in which live together three different languages (cultures): the German, Italian and Romansh. The selected architects belong to a younger generation that those who were presented by Arquitectura Viva in 1995,  they having been born, most of them, after 57: Bearth + Deplazes, Gion A. Caminada, Jürg Conzett (Conzett, Bronzini, Gartmann, AG), Gerstlauer & Molne, Jüngling & Hagmann and Christian Kerez (born in Venezuela). The Hagmann & Jüngling team appears again in this publication with two splendid and more recent works that those presented in the previous publication. If we follow the wake of the career of some of them, concretely to the last team and the Conzett´s one, this leads us, like a thread, to Peter Zumthor, due to, both of them, they have worked or collaborated in the study of the Basel master, who has his studio in a city near Chur (capital of the canton): Haldenstein.
Robert Maillart, bridge in Salginatobel

Interestingly, Jürg Conzett (Conzett, Bronzini, Gartmann, AG) is not, itself, an architectural office but the three are civil engineers, being Gartmann also architect. In the number analyzed,  they present two footbridges with an esplendid execution and integration into the landscape that, as a guiding thread, connects it with the Swiss tradition of great builders of bridges with representatives of the caliber of Othmar Amman (1879-1965), born in Switzerland but who developed his work in the U.S. and mainly the master Robert Maillart (1872-1840) who introduced in Switzerland the use of concrete in bridge construction -primarily in arc types- and whose achievements are real works of art from the point of view of the construction and of the adaptation to the landscape. The various selected architects in the number of 2G will present, over time, a long trajectory, prominent among which the team of Andrea Deplazes and Valentin Bearth, authors of a very personal work, characterized by its relationship to the physical space in which are inserted and the contemporary use of local materials and techniques and, also, experimentation with new construction processes. The essential idea of tectonics is present in the work of this team, in particular Prof. Deplazes surprise us, years later (nowadays), with the publication of a manual that has become a reference due to the perfect combination of the act of designing and building: Constructing Architecture, Materials Processes Structures, A Handbook (2010).

Gion A. Caminada, interventions in Vrin
The work of architect Gion A. Caminada deserves a special attention as it is a very anchored and related production to where it is inserted, not only from the point of view of the use of materials and techniques which are common in the Architecture of this area, mainly the work wood, but also by reinterpreting that the author makes, and contemporary key, about some common types in the Vrin area: the barn and farmhouse. The masterly wood -not in vain Caminada initially trained as a carpenter-, and its interiors, for its warmth, they invoke the original idea of the home as a "refuge", making the work of this architect a full stop that we are going to return when we see other later publications in time. If Caminada returns us to the earth, Cristian Kerez will lead us, as we shall see, to the top. In 2G, this architect -Venezuelan by birth and Swiss by adoption- is announced through two small works, a Funeral Service Building in Bonaduz and the enigmatic Ermita in Oberrealta: a cottage with gable roof constructed entirely in concrete, that evokes the high mountain shelters. With this brief presentation Kerez prepares us for future meetings.

+Arquitectura Viva nº 41, 1995
+Building in the Mountains, Recent Architecture in Graubünden,
  2G International Architecture Review, nº 14, 2000, GG Publisher
+Constructing Architecture, Materials Processes Structures, A Handbook (2005)
   Birkhäuser Publisher