Sep 14–Oct 13, 2023

Constructive Abundance

Theo Hotz Partner Architects
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5, 08093 Zurich

A cooperation between the Chair of Construction Heritage and Preservation, gta exhibitions and the gta Archives.

The exhibition Constructive Abundance. Theo Hotz Partner Architects, which coincides with the conference «High-Tech Heritage: (Im)permanence of Innovation», offers a new perspective on selected projects by the architectural practice of Theo Hotz (since 2011 Theo Hotz Partner Architects). The exhibition focusses on the vast range of constructive elements in the office’s oeuvre, shedding light on their technical as well as their aesthetic relevance, and venturing a reading that complexifies the modest technical form that is so often ascribed to Hotz to one of richness in artistry. This position brings together what has otherwise often simplistically been seen as a paradox: High tech vs. heritage, innovation vs. conservation. Hotz’s specific position in what has been categorized as high-tech architecture is cause for its re-examination, in consideration of how to deal with the conservation of such builds in the future.

From 1970 onwards, Theo Hotz and his partners significantly shaped the architectural landscape of Switzerland. Their innovative solutions in façade construction in particular are an important contribution to the Swiss architectural and building discourse. These are no doubt images of technological, logistical and economical precision. The machine-like shell of the Zurich-Mülligen letter center, the double glass facade of the Grünenhof conference building, and the yellow-highlighted building elements of the Herdern communications centre – all house workflows that match their expression. At first sight, these are the image of efficiency, without surplus. On closer inspection, however, their details reveal a value that is manifested in quality materials and intricate design.

In this sense, the exhibition also expands on a previous examination of Hotz’s work – the exhibition Theo Hotz. Architecture 1949-2002, which took place at ETH Zurich in 2002 and had as a premise “the symbolic exaggeration of construction, as exemplified by the bearing structure of the Centre Pompidou or by Norman Foster’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, is not present here.” Here pointing to high-tech architecture at the node of modernist functionalism and the pastiche of postmodernism, the exhibition had as its objective a monographic survey of Hotz’s work. A focus on detail, the element that the exhibition poses as defining the design process and final aesthetic expression of Hotz’s building, highlights the importance of collaboration, and indeed complete overlap between the architects’ design, the structural expertise of engineers and metal craftsmanship. Selected models, drawings, photographs and planning documents from the office’s past work reveal a richness and playfulness of detailed façades and construction solutions.