The enormous pressure on landscape today by a wide range of stakeholders requires a deeper understanding of the forces and demands, as well as resulting contradictions, which form the contemporary landscapes in which we live. For Studio Vulkan design means, among other things, moderating these contradictions with the intention of formulating new directions for our design solutions. We develop strategic and experimental design languages which make visible and interpret these conditions in an innovative and clear manner. We accept and engage in the conditions of the site in a concrete, technical and detailed manner to reach conceptual yet highly pragmatic solutions. This approach allows us to suss out the potential of each given landscape in a direct, open and playful way. In large and small scales we question the landscape as an atmospheric and experiential place, a place for the unfolding of social life in the everyday spaces in which we dwell.
In this way, in our various projects and scales, we investigate and formulate possible essential questions and answers which can contribute to a discourse on contemporary landscape architecture in a meaningful way and sensitize us to our relationship with the natural and built worlds.
Our approach mirrors the interdisciplinary and international backgrounds of the four partners: from landscape architecture to urban design, art and environmental psychology mixing traditions from Switzerland, Germany and the U.S.A. Currently around 35 employees are engaged in the Zurich and Munich offices. Studio Vulkan was founded in 2014 as a fusion between the offices of Schweingruber Zulauf Landschaftsarchitekten and Robin Winogrond Landschaftsarchitekten. The office is run today by the four partners Dominik Bueckers, Lukas Schweingruber, Jochen Soukup and Robin Winogrond.
Paradiso is a small city between the Lake of Lugano and the iconic mountain San Salvatore. The town lacks public connection to the lake for several reasons. It is built atop a stone protection wall several meters above water level; the shore is largely in shadow during the winter months, and mostly private properties along the shore have rendered a public promenade impossible. The competition for a Lungolago, or shoreline promenade, strengthens this connection between Paradiso and the lake, creating a public space along the shore.
In the winning design proposal, a strong, generous gesture gives the heterogeneous, fragmented urban context a clear identity while ecologically enhancing the shore and new harbour. The relationship between water and land is strengthened and choreographed into series of experiences that bring visitors towards the water, along the water, at the water and on the water. Three main elements are used to create these settings: Belvedere, Passeggiate (promenade) and Giardini. Belvedere: At the shoreline a series of Belvedere give rhythm to the promenade continuing the historical placement of them along the shore. Each new belvedere has it’s own special identity. A site-specific pavilion supports their identity and programme. Passeggiate: Two paths structure the height difference between the city and lake. The main road above the lake, “Passeggiata a monte” for cyclists and pedestrians. The playful form of the “Passaggiata a lago” responds to the many spatial constraints, such as difficult connections, private ownership, boating and swimming demands. Giardini di Paradiso: between the Belvedere and shore promenade, the gardens also given specific identities. The exotic plant palette of Ticino takes advantage of the shady situation by creating light and shadow compositions evoking known local landscape paintings.
Location: Lugano Paradiso, Ticino, Switzerland
Competition: 2016, 1st Rank
Client: City of Paradiso
Landscape Architecture: Studio Vulkan
Architecture: Könz architetto, Lugano
Engineering: Staubli Kurath & Partner, Zürich
Rendering: Atelier Brunecky, Zürich
The Rütliwiese is a meadow above Lake Lucerne where the legendary oath of loyalty founding the Swiss Confederation was taken. Renowned as the “cradle of Switzerland”, the Rütli is a Swiss national heritage site without a monument. The landscape as a whole constitutes the cultural heritage area. The place was designed as a landscape park in the 18th century – one that, according to the poet Friedrich Schiller, ideally sets off the “inhospitable shores” of Lake Lucerne. Carefully staggered perspectives are implemented through clearings and single trees and sightlines and follies create an Alpine idyll, representative of Switzerland.
The park, however, was in need of restoration. In this context, the landscape concept takes three aspects into account: agricultural and cultural heritage, an ecological shore landscape in the foothills of the Alps, and leisure. Qualities of the park were restored through revitalisation measures including the re-opening of overgrown sightlines. Open views call to mind landscape painters’ dramaturgy of exposure and concealment, as well as the mysterious atmosphere associated with the meeting of the oath swearers. The landscape and its agricultural uses are intentionally incorporated as part of the scenography of the overall appearance of the landscape. The dramaturgical sequence is reflected by the differentiation of uses: tourism-related congestion is cleverly distributed across the landscape. Instead of sweeping gestures, the design uses restrained elements. The choreography of the route remains the most important design element, with a new layer added solely in the picnic area.
LOCATION: Mountain meadow Rütli, Seelisberg
CLIENT: Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Studio Vulkan
ARCHITECTURE: Theres Aschwanden, Daniel Schürer, Zurich
ECOLOGY: Agrofutura, Frick
PHOTOGRAPHY: André Herger
The wall reinterprets urban infrastructure into a catalyst for the imagination
Cities, with their wild, uncontrolled unexpectedness, have always been great sources of what British writer Alastair Bonnet refers to as the “geographical imagination”. With the ever increasing standardization of building culture, including the building of cities and their open spaces, these sources of inspiration have come under fire. Our projects look to reveal the magical and unforeseen, imbuing open space with what might be considered a geographical re-enchantment.
Swiss law newly requires the construction of sound screens where noisy streets pass residential areas. In 2014, Studio Vulkan won a competition for artists to design an 800m long sound screen at the western entrance to the City of Zurich. The city initiated the project as an attempt to re-compose the National Highway Authorities’ (ASTRA) standard wall design into a more inspiring element.
The design, currently in development, reinterprets this heavy duty urban infrastructure and its typically negative associations into a catalyst for the imagination. A variety of etched glass panels reframe, blur, and abstract imagery of the surroundings. Reflected light, both natural and artificial, casts and juxtaposes this specific imagery onto the glass panels like an ephemeral, moving painting in real time, continuously telling a sequence of site-specific stories. Each moment displays a new combination of colours, textures, phenomena and movements.
LOCATION: Berner Strasse Nord, Zurich
PROJECT PHASES: Competition 2013, 1st prize
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: 2014–2016
SCOPE: 800 m in length
CLIENT: Federal Roads Office– FEDRO (Bundesamt für Strassen – ASTRA) Bern, Underground Engineering Authority (Tiefbauamt – TBA) of the City of Zurich
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Studio Vulkan
PHOTOGRAPHY: Daniela Valentini
FILM STILLS: Samuel Perriard
The much-discussed town hall square at the centre of Meilen was realised in the course of the town hall extension and construction of underground parking. Formerly, a large unattractive parking lot occupied the area between the town hall and several banks. Connections between the buildings involved different levels requiring the use of long stairs and ramps as well as crossing the parking lot. A few benches and a fountain attempted to make the space pleasant.
Strategically, the new design presents the large area on a single level extending to the rear of the bank building at street level. All the buildings now have direct access to the square. The lower schoolhouse area is joined via a generous stair and ramp sculpture. The broad design emphasises the connection between the lower “soft” grounds and the upper “hard” town hall square. Due to the large amount of paving the surface was treated sculpturally using a local Swiss stone. The surface wanders from fine to highly textured, breaking the light in different ways and turning the large surface into sculpture in and of itself.
A centrally located café pavilion at the edge of the stairs links and enlivens both the upper and lower areas. The new town square offers enough space for the events of the community, such as market days or fairs. A row of trees between town hall and UBS bank building provides shade to rest in and leads visitors from the street to the square. To the west a new edge allows for further buildings in the future.
Location: Village centre of Meilen
Client: Municipality of Meilen
Competition: 2010, 1st prize
Area: 6,700 m2
Landscape: Studio Vulkan Landschaftsarchitektur, Zurich
Architecture: Blättler Dafflon Architekten, Horisberger Wagen Architekten
Specialised planning: Baumanagement b+p/ Ingenieur Dr. Lüchinger + Meyer Bauingenieure
(Visualisation: Nightnurse Images GmbH, Zurich)
The air systems engineering factory Zellweger-Luwa defined the appearance and history of the city of Uster for many years. Therefore, the change of use of the former company grounds also reflects the transformation experienced by the city. This project is endowed with a special significance for the current and future development of the city due to the prominent location of the grounds, and the quality of site-specific constructed elements and exterior spaces. Interventions required for transforming the large areas of water and green spaces of the formerly inaccessible grounds into public open spaces were purposely kept to a minimum to safeguard functional flexibility.
The aim was to preserve the existing natural and emotional qualities despite an increasing pressure on land use: seating elements strewn in the existing woods, better water quality, extensive retention of existing trees and inconspicuous informal forest paths. A bridge designed by Tadashi Kawamata, a sculpture by Fischli/Weiss and benches by Studio Vulkan Landschaftsarchitektur can be regarded as acupunctural interventions in the existing system.
LOCATION: Zellweger-Luwa Areal, Uster, Switzerland
PROJECT PHASES: Competition 2006, 1st prize
CLIENT: City of Uster
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Studio Vulkan
ENGINEERING: Staubli, Kurath & Partner
PHOTOGRAPHY: Studio Vulkan