Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MFO Park Zurich, Switzerland

I first came across this project when my former classmate and good friend Eva Bruhin, of Eva Bruhin :: Gärten und Landschaften, chose the site for her Landscape Appraisal Project. I have been following the parks evolution ever since. A recent nostalgia filled conversation with Eva was the catalyst for today's posting.

block 1 images via www.raderschall.ch

A letter from artist Jürg Altherr to the joint planners of the MFO Park, Burckhardt+Partner/Raderschall:

What used to be the “Forbidden City”, an industrial district that only those working there were allowed to enter: A public hall as big as the biggest industrial halls; a park as a walk-on sculpture; the green opera!

A work that redeems the secret of the Forbidden City. A huge structure towering high above the ground – and still lightly touching the earth with tiny feet – and leaving me the freedom to enter and to leave wherever it pleases me – accompanied by my sweetheart, my wife, my children; strolling through different worlds: from street curbstone to the roofed walk, the large hall to the front stalls.

The beauty of the shell, the feeling of bliss that the building is allowed to remain in its most open and beautiful phase!

Walking over wide stairs to the dress circle: letting the balconies tremble – not necessarily by sermons; by my sheer presence.

In the upper circle: objection or greeting? The space is new to me, the light comes from the other end, the stage is on the left and the masses of the upper and lower voids have been reversed.

The rigging loft: Into the roof bench. After the big void the materialistic infinity; with each step a new enormous sum of perspectives, vertical, horizontal sequences of sections, St. Andrew’s crosses condensed into textile patterns, captivating your eye as a two-dimensional picture, then letting it get lost at the next step in a multitude of spatial sequences.

The stairs into the blue of the sky – this outlook! The construction now reaches no higher than above my ankles, the support structure underneath my feet is so light, the ground so far – I am almost weightless – how else could I be here? How else could I stand this?

But here I am – in Zürich! On a creation of classless beauty, not where the flesh will soon drop off the bones, but where flourishing, scented, vital vegetation will make the filigree skeleton grow into an organic body over time. Here, you can joyfully and lightly take Zwingli’s sentence seriously: “For God’s sake, do something brave”!

My best thanks and congratulations to the inventors, the builders, the originators of this work!

block 2 images via Burckhardt+Partner AG

Project courtesy of


  1. I look at many gardening blogs, garden/installation designers.
    ALL are freaks into palms/lawns two options
    I despise and refuse.
    On the other hand VINES/CLIMBERS are underestimated and underused, not even mentioned. With the immense architectural
    possibilities to create whatever comes to mind
    with wires, pipes, wood, any material is adequate, since the beauty of the leaves and flowers will cover the support enhancing it.
    My honest congratulations. In my blog, in my
    garden I mention and use vines/climbers for
    the beauty, easy maintenance.

  2. So fanciful and surreal! I am not really sure if these are beautiful or haunting, but maybe that is the point...? Perhaps the artist is trying to create a stark contrast between nature and natural forms. The effect is of being very very small, like an ant looking up at blades of grass.


  3. Gardening works all over the world seem very different. The design in Zurich allows plants to climb up to form a particular design. Truly amazing!


  4. christie weduwerJune 17, 2010

    Hi there! I am busy writing an article on parks in a prestigious gardenmagazine in the Netherlands.(Tuinjournaal, published by The Dutch Garden Association) I need a picture of the MFO park in jpg, original measures. Could you help me please?

    yhanks a lot,

    Christie Weduwer

  5. yes, send me an email so we can discuss what exactly you need ...info@christianbarnard.ca