Geographical Reenchantment: Swiss Landscape Interventions between Atmosphere, Function + Experience

In tiny Switzerland, landscape is regarded as a resource that serves lobbies from agriculture and speculation, to infrastructure, ecology, tourism, and recreation, each with a voice of its own except one–the landscape itself. This studio explores the potential of these spaces to develop a strong landscape voice and experience of their own, to imbue them with what Alistair Bonnet refers to as “geographical reenchantment.” It is both a Swiss and global phenomenon. As designers, what means do we have to requalify landscape to express both archaic and contemporary contradictions and beauties?

Based on Studio Vulkan’s winning international competition entry for the Swiss national “Expo 2027,” which activates landscape at a territorial scale, we explore a vertical section from low lakes to high mountains on three sites: the Rhine River Delta, the Rhine Canal, and the River Valley, and archaic alpine peaks at mountain Säntis. We explore texts, reference projects, and artworks, sharpening our ability to perceive, articulate, and translate into concrete projects concepts such as identity of place, atmosphere, experience, contradiction, and the dialogue between the built world outside of us and the inner world of experience. The site visit to Switzerland includes studio work and critiques in our industrial hall in Zurich. We will explore the sites conceptually as well as via concrete issues of resources, uses, conflicts, potentials, poetics, and possible fantastical visions.

Each student will develop landscape interventions that offer a strong contribution to the voice, identity, and experience of the place—interventions that do not compete with the place but rather highlight its potential strengths.