Stefan Wülser Architektur
A fragile equilibrium
Zürich, CH

Stefan Wülser Architektur was founded in 2015 and is currently located in Zürich, Switzerland. With a philosophy closely attached to deep reflection, the studio also believes in involving themselves in changing contexts and scenarios in order to produce a very refined and pragmatic architecture that looks for the inherent value in things.

 

Making new connections 

I’m getting experienced with my first steps. After running my own office together with a partner and up to 6 employees for 3 years, we finally decided to go different directions. I used 2019 to reinvent my own practice and to reflect on how to implement all the other fields I’m passionate about such as politics or sociology or art. Now I am much more into my personal take on architecture. That was an incredibly valuable process and it really sharpened not only my methodologies but also opened a world full of connections and potential topics in this vast, elusive field surrounding architecture.

 

Short-lived timelessness 

Another eye-opening experience that was almost synchronous to the resetting of my self-employment was the completion and the very early dismantling of a project. After an extensive conceptual phase we realised a wine bar that challenged a lot of a-prioris about gastronomic projects and about going to bars. We basically put 5 blocks of massive northern-italian marble in the ground floor of a townhouse in the old center of Zurich and declared the space around this new center of gravity as a hierarchy-free zone. Waiters and guests shared what is usually strictly defined as behind and in-front-of a bar. Whoever had the pleasure of working with swiss gastronomic hygiene regulations can maybe imagine what we’ve been through at this point. So I was super enthusiastic about the outcome and about the years of inspiring discussions at this bar to come. The owner then decided to move his business to another country and the bar was sold within months. His successor disassembled the 30 tons of marble in an absurdly expensive process to sell it as a resource for (most likely) kitchen tops.

 

Switching between realisation and reflection 

One of the very few rules for my practice is to not stay in a single mode for too long. While I believe in the quality of deep concentration and extensive reflection of things I also believe that different fields and different modes of approaching things can really enrich each other. I try to not have weeks where theory or building projects completely displace the other. I try to keep this fragile equilibrium in mixing up realisation and reflection as much as necessary to stimulate the mind.

 

Making the workspace a social one

Working in a former gallery’s space with huge windows on the ground floor inevitably connects you to the public space. It triggers random encounters of many kinds and also creates interesting interferences between our daily rhythm and our surroundings. It also offers the potential to use the space differently which has yet to become part of my practices routine. I planned to host lectures, discussions and workshops in the same space we work. I’d like to make the working environment more open and social and get rid of it’s fixed attribution.

 

Expecting to deal with reality 

While I’m convinced that our generation has to develop individual and collective visions, I also like to bravely face reality. If we agree that reality is incredibly multi-layered and complex then constantly developing the idea of clear answers - of yes-no or good-bad - quickly dissolves. Trying to deal with all the uncertainties and the elusiveness of what at first glance seemed to be an obvious path is very motivating actually. How can our métier more closely link to what is relevant to society and the negotiation of our common values? Today at the very same point in history we try to explain everything as if it’s a technical object and also try to create unique and singular things as part of a cultural economy.

 

Staying critical and productive 

For me the parallel work on writings and houses is essential. The research about contemporary production logics and philosophical views on it can quickly become a rabbit hole that doesn’t allow you to give answers at all anymore… And answers are what concrete designs ultimately are about, right? Writing critical essays about the big picture – as I did for archithese or Trans magazine last year – and actually deciding what material a building is made of at the same time is demanding and rewarding. I guess we (as architects) should discuss much more about the inherent values of designs rather than focus only on concrete designs to develop sharp tools and reconnect things.

stefanwuelser 01 portrait2020 Stefan Wuelser

stefanwuelser 05 studio mood Stefan Wuelser

stefanwuelser 04 studio seebahnstrasse Stefan Wuelser

stefanwuelser 02 marble Stefan Wuelser

stefanwuelser 03 winebar Stefan Wuelser

Photography Courtesy of Stefan Wülser






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