Competition for a new appearance for the ETHZ. The Swiss Federal Technical Polytechnic Centre (ETHZ) has undergone a transformation in its teaching and research programmes concomitant to the transformation of the industrial to the information society. The intention was to allow this change to be expressed in an aesthetically consequential, but nevertheless discreet form in a new appearance. New utility elements were introduced which transversed the interior and extrerior zones and contrasted with Semper?s massif with their lightness. Glass is the dominant material: etched, sand-blown or coloured, it constitutes the communicative vehicle for the informational content. A prelude is formed by two larger glass volumes on the exterior. The glass container at the entrance E-East can house numerous functions, such as orientation plans, a staffed reception area or an information kiosk. The positioning of the second glass volume on the Polyterrace is peripheral and asymetrical, so as to compete as little as possible with Semper?s representative façade facing the city. In this way it forms an ideal basis for labelling the building for visitors arriving by car or with the Polytechnic funicular. In the interior, smaller volumes serve as information kiosks, notice boards, display cases or lighting bodies according to their function. Reduced to their basic element, a sheet, they carry the building?s information system. In addition, all the existing glass doors are replaced by green-toned glass doors. By virtue of their materiality they create a link to the exterior glass volumes and so constitute an important design element. A network of tiny monitors and a computer projection onto the floor of the Hall of Honour are planned as an additional layer of information. They show scientific pictures drawn from the institution?s own academic storage which, divorced from their applied purpose, take on an aesthetic autonomy.

Art: Pipilotti Rist