Art and construction

The Careum Foundation firmly believes in the artistic potential of construction. And the various works of art around the Careum Campus are testament to this.

The Careum Foundation has created a unique educational campus for the healthcare professions in Zurich's higher education district. And given the exemplary style of the new clinker brick buildings, those in charge of the project were keen to adopt an “art and construction” approach to the new Careum Campus – to supplement the high-quality architecture from Bern-based architecture firm GWJ Architekten AG. With this in mind, an art commission was set up in July 2003 to launch a competitive tender process where various Swiss artists were invited to take part. It was a case of coming up with artistically convincing designs, both inside and out, and delivering these accordingly. 2007 saw the first phase implemented, with works by Annelies Strba, Piero Maspoli and Urs Eberle situated both inside and in front of the Careum buildings 1 and 2 on Gloriastrasse (see the site plan).

In autumn 2015, the Careum Foundation ran another invitation-only art competition when the auditorium was built. The Foundation felt it was important that the new auditorium – designed by the Zurich architects Bhend Klammer – should be enhanced by contemporary interventions that were both creative and unique. Those in charge of the project convened another art commission to provide artists Christine Streuli and Beat Zoderer with active support both during the competition phase and as they carried out their work.

The artist's work

Urs Eberle: Haus der vier Elemente, 2004

The artist earmarked four places for interventions, namely the atrium and the main, south and north stairwells. The artist used colour at the four locations to reflect the elements of fire, water, earth and wind. In the main stairwell, an oracle with a fire theme was integrated into the wall and the paint. Eberle sees his painting style as an extension of architecture and a kind of spatial sculpture that people can walk past or through. The technical and functional aspects of the architecture were complemented by Eberle's painting, which added a colourful and sensuous component.

Annelies Strba «PEMA CHÖKYI» (flower of joyfull teaching), 2005

The starting point was some film footage from a kitchen garden in Horgen near Zurich, which the artist had known very well since her childhood. What you see are kaleidoscopic colour compositions flowing into each other – a bright interplay of colourful impressions that convey a sense of movement. The two pictures, which only really evoke floral motifs when seen at a distance, need to be understood as a single entity. They radiate a powerful sense of emotion and bring something sensuous and dynamic to the open space inside the cafeteria. Through her work, the artist creates a dream-like and gaily coloured counterpoint to the day-to-day routine of an educational establishment.

Piero Maspoli: Ohne Titel (Keil), 2006

The artist had contrived a kind of wedge-shaped ramp made of various sandstone slabs for the transitional area between Gloriastrasse and the Careum Campus (and tapering off towards Plattenstrasse). The wedge is around 1.20 m high where it starts and decreases in height – down a gradient already present – to around 40 cm, while narrowing to form a point at the bottom. The artist saw the wedge as a minimalist intervention in keeping with the specific situation at the site. A balance between forging an architectural/sculptural shape and creating a natural appearance, with the wedge marking an understated boundary (from a town planning perspective) between the Careum Campus and both Gloriastrasse and the wider university district.

Beat Zoderer: Raster, 2016

In terms of form and content, this artist, who is active both at home and abroad, would have to come under the banner of constructive art. Zoderer described his work at the Careum Auditorium as follows: “The impression is a net-like structure covering the whole space. It is actually a dot matrix consisting of three circles of various sizes. The axes for the matrix run diagonal to the space and make it appear larger. The sequence used for the dots incorporates a degree of variety. It's a kind of dual system combining order and chaos.” (Beat Zoderer, 2016 competition). The result is a floorscape where dots suggesting both regular and irregular sequences form a rhythm of sorts and create an impression of vitality and excitement. This system of dots spaced at different intervals only emerges upon closer inspection, forcing the viewer to work that bit harder, so to speak, in order to fathom out and understand the laws behind the “secret” dot matrix.

Christine Streuli: Brushstrokes, 2016

The artist has become known for her expressive and ornamental style of painting. Her works tend to be highly dynamic or intensely colourful. She explains her mural in the entrance hall as follows: “The basic idea behind my concept was to take drawings of stylised brushstrokes, have these enlarged, and then apply them to the concrete walls in the entrance and foyer area of the new Careum building. The frozen 'brushstrokes' are intended to signify the painter's gestures and stand for movement, energy and a certain train of thought. If executed cleanly, large brushstrokes can become a kind of logo and a proxy expression of human gestures and vitality. Massive enlargement of a small movement represents a playful way of shifting our habitual perception and interpretation of scale. It can get us thinking in new and interesting ways.“ (Christine Streuli, 2016 competition)

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