09 Nov 2015 • Interview
Juerg Judin converts a 1950s gas station into an urban oasis
Dedicated to interviews of creatives and their personalized spaces, online publication FvF visits the gas station-cum-residence of gallerist slash and art collector Juerg Judin:
As soon as the garden door closes behind you, you’re wrapped in an urban oasis – a converted 1950s gas station is now Juerg Judin’s singular universe. For many years, a for-sale sign hanging in the abandoned building’s window begged for Juerg’s attention. After documenting its slow decay through photographs, the gallery owner finally succumbed. The building’s siren song cajoled him into transforming it into a haven that houses art and all his passions.
You can’t miss the harmony between past and present, even if you experience this innovative property from the outside alone – as do the many architecture tourists who flock to see the 52-year-old’s home. And rightly so. The station’s canopy and exterior façade are in near-original condition. To retain the typical cream-colored cladding, the gallerist and his architecture team exchanged the weathered tiles from the outer walls with well-preserved ones from inside. They also freshly glazed the windows and garage gate and repainted them in Shell red – an homage to the former owner. Whatever Juerg Judin does, he does with passion – and without compromise. As he later admits, the influential art collector continues to have something from his 20-year-old self’s mixture of confidence and bravado. Even though he’s become more tempered with age, he still believes that without calculated risk, nothing can happen.
How important is it to you to have outdoor space in your home?
Very. It’s a true luxury to have a house with a garden in the middle of the city. That surely played a part in pushing for the conversion of the gas station into a home. You might not know this, but aside from an avid cook, I’m also an avid ornithologist. Here in this special property I can combine both: I have the rare opportunity to keep an interesting group of wonderful birds and to plant my own tomatoes and herbs.
Do you enjoy that mostly for yourself, or are you also making a statement with this urban oasis?
Building a garden with 50-year-old pines in the middle of the city is of course a kind of statement; especially since the wall keeps this haven hidden from the outside world. You can’t experience the oasis-like quality of the garden until the door closes behind you. I don’t think something like that can really be planned – it developed organically. What was deliberate was the preservationist approach of the house. Most old gas stations have been torn down in recent decades. Thus, the conservation of this building was a major concern for me from the outset.
Read the full interview over at FvF.
Photos Ailine Liefeld