Swiss architecture is renowned for its unparalleled focus on functionality, innovation and seamless integration with the surrounding landscapes. Rooted in a rich heritage influenced by neighbouring countries and international movements, Swiss architecture has carved a unique identity in harmony with nature. The Swiss have long embraced the concept of "form follows function," ensuring that every building serves a purpose beyond mere aesthetics. This philosophy is quite evident from the simplicity of traditional Swiss chalets defined by wooden construction to contemporary architecture that prioritizes environmentally conscious materials and design.
In the contemporary context, Swiss architects have shaped modern architecture through the establishment of the Bauhaus-inspired International Style movement. Notable Swiss architects leading the movement like Le Corbusier and Mario Botta, have left an indelible mark on modern architecture across the globe. Today, the Swiss architectural landscape is a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation, where functional design principles coalesce with a deep appreciation for sustainability. The following list is a selection of 25 architecture firms whose exceptional work and vision are a testament to Switzerland’s pursuit of design excellence.
Herzog & de Meuron is a renowned international architectural firm headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, established in 1978. With a diverse team of over 550 individuals hailing from 50 different countries, the firm possesses a wealth of expertise to tailor solutions for each unique project. Their approach extends beyond conventional boundaries, embracing open collaboration and impartiality to address the pressing issues of our rapidly changing world. They have successfully worked on more than 600 projects across 40 countries, ranging from small buildings to large-scale urban masterplans, emphasizing the profound impact of architecture and urban planning on a community's identity. Through open dialogues and partnerships, they continuously engage with clients and stakeholders to shape projects from concept to completion, fostering ongoing relationships and professional growth opportunities for their team members.
Christ & Gantenbein is a renowned international architectural practice, founded in 1998 by Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, with its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The firm boasts a diverse team of 100 architects from 20 countries. They have successfully completed notable projects, including the Swiss National Museum expansion and the Kunstmuseum Basel extension, both recognized cultural landmarks worldwide. Their work has garnered numerous accolades, including the 2018 Dezeen Architect of the Year Award and the Red Dot Award "Best of the Best" prize in 2016. The integration of practice and research is central to their ethos, as demonstrated through their academic teaching at renowned institutions like ETH Zurich and Harvard GSD. Christ & Gantenbein's impressive portfolio is featured in publications and has been exhibited at prestigious international events.
Valerio Olgiati, a highly acclaimed Swiss architect, boasts a distinguished career with numerous international projects to his credit. After completing his architectural studies at ETH Zurich, he honed his skills working alongside Frank Escher before founding his own practice in 1996. Olgiati's designs offer a distinctive architectural experience, characterized by meticulously crafted spaces that tell a compelling story through their pure forms, captivating use of light, and thoughtful choice of materials. Throughout his journey as an architect, he also shared his expertise as an educator at ETH Zurich, the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, Cornell University, and eventually became a full-time professor at Accademia di architettura Mendrisio. His influence extends even further as he has held the esteemed Kenzo Tange Chair at Harvard University since 2009.
LOCALARCHITECTURE was established in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2002 by Manuel Bieler, Antoine Robert-Grandpierre, and Laurent Saurer. Their architectural practice centers on creating responsive designs that redefine the harmony and history of the context they operate. Through a thorough analysis of the surroundings, they explore how a building's "presence" can be conveyed through a profound relationship between form and structure. The firm's work has gained national and international recognition, featured in prominent publications and competitions, and has earned various awards, including the Lignum Award and Distinction Romande d’Architecture Award. Engaging in education, LOCALARCHITECTURE has been involved in teaching roles, including lectures at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and participating in review juries at esteemed institutions like ETH Zurich and the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio.
HHF Architects, established in 2003 by Tilo Herlach, Simon Hartmann, and Simon Frommenwiler, embraces a global perspective in their personal and professional pursuits. Over the last two decades, they have undertaken diverse projects across several countries. The firm is distinguished by its unique approach, engaging in extensive conversations with clients to create exceptional structures, ranging from pilgrim stop-overs to children's parks, collectors' storehouses, and revolutionary temple reuses. Their broad scope of work includes urbanism, large-scale construction, retail centers, museums, hotels, public pavilions, luxurious apartments, and interior design. Collaboration with other architects and artists is central to HHF's approach, enriching their perspectives and project quality. Their outstanding work has earned them numerous national and international awards, and invitations to renowned biennials, and their projects are proudly featured in permanent collections at esteemed institutions, including Centre Pompidou and Architekturmuseum der TU München.
Christian Kerez is an architectural practice based in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded by Christian Kerez in 1993, the firm has a remarkable background, with the architect studying at ETH Zurich and honing his skills under Rudolf Fontana in Domat/Ems. Initially known for architectural photography, Kerez has since undertaken various projects, including the Oberrealta Chapel, School building in Leutschenbach, House with Lake view, House with a Missing Column, Office Building Lyon Confluence Îlot A3, Apartment building on Forsterstrasse, House With One Wall, and Schulhaus Leutschenbach.
Calatrava Valls S.A., founded by the celebrated architect, engineer, and artist Santiago Calatrava in Zurich in 1983, has earned international acclaim for its remarkable projects. Starting with the iconic Stadelhofen Station in Zurich, the firm's reputation grew with notable works like the Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, Spain. The Zurich office has been involved in projects such as railway stations in Liège, Belgium, and Reggio-Emilia, Italy, along with the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio De Janeiro. Calatrava expanded his influence with offices in Paris, Valencia, and New York, undertaking prestigious projects like the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The firm's international presence further extended with offices in Qatar and the UAE, contributing to the design of significant structures, including the Dubai Creek Tower and the UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020.
Davide Macullo, a Swiss architect and artist born in Giornico in 1965, resides and operates in Lugano, Switzerland. His impressive career encompasses studies in art, architecture, and interior design. Having spent two decades as a project architect under Mario Botta, with oversight of over 200 international projects, Macullo established his own atelier in 2000. The studio's ethos centers on drawing inspiration from the context of each project, fostering a dialogue between specificity and universality. Macullo's work has gained recognition and awards both locally and internationally. The studio's creative scope extends to graphic design, branding consulting, custom furniture, and curating contemporary art collections for clients. Emphasizing the enhancement of daily life, Macullo's designs engage all scales of architecture and research, harmonizing natural landscapes with urban structures. Each creation reflects a synthesis of past, present, and human aspirations, culminating in an enriching journey of discovery and universal beauty.
bauzeit architekten is a prominent architectural firm based in Biel, Switzerland, known for its successful execution of diverse public and private projects. Their portfolio includes urban development, residential buildings, administration buildings, retirement and nursing homes, sports and educational facilities, villas, and bus stops. The core principle driving their architectural approach is the seamless interaction between program requirements and the surrounding environment. Each project emerges from meticulous research and experimentation, where historical, cultural, and situational aspects of the location are carefully considered to inform precise design solutions. The firm's wide-ranging interests and flexible structure enable them to work across various scales, from designing furniture and refurbishments in historical contexts to comprehensive urban development plans for entire districts.
RDR architectes, with offices in Lausanne, Buenos Aires, and Madrid, has built a collaborative architectural practice over the years. Their portfolio encompasses a diverse array of projects, varying in size, complexity, and program, obtained through direct commissions or competitions from public or private clients. The firm excels in architecture, urbanism, and interior design, demonstrating expertise in all project phases, from preliminary studies to construction site management. Founded in 1993 by Jacques Richter and Ignacio Dahl Rocha, the firm is now led by a new generation of architects trained within the company, carrying forward its philosophy and values while bringing a fresh perspective. The multicultural nature of their teams, with over 15 nationalities represented, reflects RDR's international outlook and identity, fostered by their openness to the world.
E2A is a versatile architectural and urban planning firm, catering to a diverse range of clients from public, private, industrial, and institutional sectors. Their primary focus lies in public and cultural buildings, which form the core of their architectural heritage. Additionally, E2A boasts extensive experience in office architecture, having successfully designed various administrative buildings across Europe. Housing solutions are another area of expertise, with several well-known housing projects under their belt, addressing the ongoing need for housing in central European urban contexts. The firm's expertise also extends to industrial architecture, delivering notable contributions in this field. Beyond architecture, E2A is also recognized for its urban planning capabilities, engaging in project studies, feasibility assessments, and infrastructural ventures.
wespi de meuron romeo architetti is a Swiss architectural practice led by Markus Wespi, Jérôme de Meuron, and Luca Romeo. Their portfolio showcases a series of acclaimed residential projects in Switzerland, characterized by a bold use of materials and a sensitive approach to restoration work. Some of their notable projects include the New house in San Nazzaro, Apartment H Transformation, Bar-Restaurant LEVEL, House renovation in Treia, Barn renovation, New concrete house in Caviano, and Conversion house in Ascona, among others. The firm's work reflects a keen attention to detail and a commitment to innovative design solutions in the field of residential architecture.
Peter Zumthor, a renowned architect, established his own firm in 1979, which quickly gained recognition for its exceptional work. Over the years, he has taken on various international projects and also shared his knowledge as a teacher at esteemed institutions like the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Technical University of Munich, Tulane University, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Zumthor's portfolio boasts several iconic projects, including the Kunsthaus Bregenz, the cave-like thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland, and the Kolumba Diocesan Museum in Cologne. Additionally, he was selected for the Norway National Tourist Routes Project, where he worked on the Memorial in Memory of the Victims of the Witch Trials in Varanger and a rest area/museum at an abandoned zinc mine. He currently operates from a small studio with around 30 employees in Haldenstein, Switzerland, producing remarkable designs that resonate on a global scale.
Gus Wüstemann Architects is an interdisciplinary architectural and urban planning network, with studios established in Zurich, Barcelona, and Mallorca. The firm delves into socially relevant topics, combining a simple, resource-efficient aesthetic with an ethical program. Advocating for sustainable urban development, Gus Wüstemann Architects is actively involved in research, teaching, politics, and jury panels. One of their significant endeavors is advising Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau on transforming the city with superblocks, creating pedestrian-friendly spaces and promoting sustainable practices. Affordable and high-quality housing solutions are another key focus for the firm, exemplified by their Langgrütstrasse project in Zurich, which garnered international acclaim and prestigious architectural awards. Additionally, Gus Wüstemann fosters cultural exchange between the Swiss and Catalan architectural scenes through the platform "Catalan Architects," curated in collaboration with the COAC professional association.
EM2N, an architecture firm with offices in Zurich and Berlin, was established by Mathias Müller and Daniel Niggli in 1997. Their diverse portfolio includes projects in Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, with approximately half focusing on conversions. Among their notable achievements are the Toni-Areal and Viaduct Arches in Zurich. Currently, they are working on exciting ventures like the Museum of Natural History and State Archives in Basel and the Cultural Centre KANAL in Brussels. EM2N's approach is rooted in embracing the vibrant dynamics of the city and its inhabitants while respecting its historical heritage. They combine means and collective knowledge to craft architecture that aligns with contemporary needs, adopting a pragmatic yet idealistic attitude towards the complexities of modern society and the urban environment. Their response to the built environment's challenges is characterized by a cool, observant approach rather than irony or drama.
Evolution Design, established in 2004 by Stefan Camenzind, is driven by a passion for client-centered design solutions. With offices in Zurich and London and a team of 20 architects and designers, the studio operates under a partnership model since 2014, led by Stefan Camenzind as the executive director, Tanya Ruegg as the creative director, and Marco Noch as the technical director. Their projects embody a blend of in-depth research, innovative creativity, and advanced engineering expertise, with a special emphasis on addressing human emotional needs and well-being.
Established in 2000 and situated in Geneva, group8 is an architecture and urbanism firm that embraces creative freedom and a playful spirit in an otherwise serious industry. They believe that every project must respond uniquely to its context, daring to challenge conventional norms. This approach grants each building a distinct identity and character. Guided by an ever-changing society, group8 views projects as reflections of social behavior. Their distinctive brand arises from their ability to seamlessly merge attention to detail with a holistic perspective on both the individual and the grand scale of projects.
STOCKER LEE ARCHITETTI, co-founded by Melanie Stocker and DongJoon Lee, is a dynamic architectural studio with a rich background in academia and professional experience. Melanie Stocker, born in Lucerne, Switzerland, pursued architecture studies at ETH Zurich and Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio. She gained practical expertise at the renowned Peter Zumthor studio before establishing the firm with Dong Joon Lee in 2005. Dong Joon Lee, a talented architect from Seoul, Korea, also studied at Accademia di Architettura and has been recognized with prestigious awards. Their collaborative approach brings forth innovative projects, such as Ca'Ospiti, Atelier, Nonhyun 101-1, NINA, BAU BAU, and SOTTOBOSCO, reflecting their passion for creative design solutions.
Pablo Horvath, an esteemed architect, and lecturer at ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences since 2013, runs his own architecture office in Chur since 1990. He completed his architecture studies at ETH Zurich from 1983 to 1988. Throughout his career, he has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the German Natural Stone Prize and numerous Recognition of Good Buildings in the canton of Graubünden for projects such as the Biathlon Arena Lenzerheide, Community Center Pany, and the renovation of the Totengut cemetery chapel in Chur. His dedication to innovative design and architectural excellence is evident in his impressive portfolio of award-winning projects.
At Logo Adrian Streich Architects AG, the firm specializes in designing and executing buildings and systems with a deep understanding of both professional and cultural aspects. The team's approach involves examining the built environment objectively and comprehensively, treating architecture as a skillful craft with a pragmatic outlook. Their primary focus is on creating sustainable and empathetic living spaces that cater to the needs of future occupants. Logo Adrian Streich Architects AG's areas of expertise encompass urban development, residential, educational, commercial, and heritage preservation projects. They offer a wide range of services, including architectural competitions, feasibility studies, cost management, and jury work.
Fuhrimann Hächler Architects is a collaborative architectural firm co-led by Gabrielle Hächler and Andreas Fuhrimann. Gabrielle Hächler, born in 1958, possesses degrees in art history and architecture from ETH Zurich, boasting extensive experience in the field. Andreas Fuhrimann, born in 1956, holds backgrounds in physics and architecture from ETH Zurich and has collaborated with several renowned architects. The duo has been operating their own architectural office since 1988 and began collaborating in 1995. Their team also includes Carlo Fumarola and Gilbert Isermann, both with degrees in architecture from ETH Zurich, who have been invaluable members of the firm since 2005 and 2007, respectively, and became partners in 2012. Fuhrimann Hächler Architects is renowned for its expertise in diverse architectural projects, dedicated to delivering innovative, high-quality designs.
Beck Oser Architekten, founded in 2001 by university friends Martin Beck and Roger Oser, is an architectural office based in Hofstetten and Basel. Their team has successfully executed numerous private and public projects, including new buildings, conversions, usage and development studies, local planning, urban development, and building consultations. Focused on people's needs, their approach seeks holistic solutions, resulting in timelessly modern architecture that emphasizes careful material selection. Their commitment to quality extends from planning to completion, ensuring high architectural standards in all their buildings. Some of their notable projects include the Extension School Building, Houses Witterswilerstrasse, House Neuhofweg, and the Transformation Parish Centre.
ern+ heinzl architects, founded by Christiane Ern and Simeon Heinzl, is an architectural firm that places a strong emphasis on understanding architecture as a language with its own vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. With a background in various architectural offices and academic institutions, the firm approaches each project as a translation process, bringing together all the elements to form a holistic language that communicates with the place, time, and people. They believe that architecture requires a deep understanding of space, proportions, and materiality to transform buildings into meaningful architectural expressions. Through their expertise and sensitivity to the cultural context, ern+ heinzl architects strive to create coherent and thoughtful architectural solutions.
DF_DC is an architecture and urban design firm that embraces an interdisciplinary approach to the project of space. The firm's focus lies in understanding the interconnectedness between various scales, from urban patterns to intricate details. Central to their work is the exploration of human-scale atmospheres, achieved through collaborations with a diverse network of artists, designers, and makers. With offices in London and Lugano (CH), DF_DC is engaged in projects spanning the UK, Switzerland, Mexico, France, Italy, and Mozambique. Their commitment to academic research and teaching complements their practice, and they are proud to be an RIBA chartered practice.
The firm has been active in Bagnes since 2010 and expanded to Lausanne in 2014. With two partners and three coworkers from diverse backgrounds, they share a deep passion for architecture. Their approach is rooted in contemporary design, strongly connected to the social and cultural context while embracing innovation and site sensitivity. The firm prioritizes their clients, working closely with them to bring their desired projects to life.
The selection curated by the Archello editorial team is based on a combination of the amount of featured projects and the views they generated.