WINTERTHUR – The large canopy looming over the Winterthur bus terminal – designed by the local outfit Stutz Bolt Partner – is both a bold, stripped down sculpture and an impressive feat of Swiss engineering. Yet, despite the building’s aesthetic rigor, the space around it feels transparent and liberated, as it allows the surrounding urban tissue to form a seamless continuum.
‘Before, there were several barrel-shaped bus shelters from the 1980s,’ explains Dario Oechsli, architect and partner at Stutz Bolt Partner. ‘These old structures had relatively low roofs which obscured views of the old city and the station square was divided into bus streets, which severed the pedestrian connections.’
The new structure rises up from a single large column, and opens up like a large, asymmetrical parasol over the square, allowing free circulation of pedestrians, as well as providing visitors with a clear orientation point and view of Winterthur’s old town. The central column serves as a small kiosk for the employees of the town’s public transit network and an entrance to underground servant spaces.
The canopy’s light touch can be attributed to its skin as much as its daring formal appearance. Covered with perforated metal panels, it reveals glimpses of the light steel skeleton behind it, as well as diffusing oncoming sunlight and creating a lively play of shadows underneath. ‘We tried to make a pattern that is interesting but still very quiet. It should not be the main design element – even if it was tempting,’ Oechsli explains. ‘We designed six elements with different densities and made a map of how they will be assembled. If there is an analogy, it would be a clouded sky.’
Photos copyright Michael Haug