The Cost of History

(Un)listing Zurich

Basislager (not listed)
Swisscom Rechenzentrum (inventar)
Kirchgemeindehaus Wipkingen (listed)
Bläsi Badi (not listed)
Zett Haus (inventar)
Stadelhofer Passage, Ernst Gisel (not listed)
Helsinki Klub (not listed)
Kantine Binzmühle (not listed)
Weinbergstrasse 56 (not listed)
Koch Areal
Kino Roland (not listed)

Dear students,

What do you choose: to preserve energy or history?

When you list buildings, you waste energy because they cannot be adapted to new energy standards. On the other hand, when you adapt buildings to new energy standards, you erase their history, because the material traces are transformed and their memories fade away.

Will the conservation of history become unaffordable with rising energy prices?

For the Master Thesis we invite you to list or unlist buildings in Zurich. You might find a building worth protecting, because you find its history or spatial qualities essential to keep. Or you might unlist a monument, because it mummifies the past and stands for exclusion and control and for values that you don’t share.

You will reflect on the amount of energy embedded in the building of your choice.You will also reflect on the amount of history embedded in the building of your choice.

And you’ll wonder: what does listing and monumentalizing do? What kind of identity or history does it serve? What should we conserve: the architecture or its meaning? What kind of value, possibly economic, does it create for the city or for private interests? How to think across the boundary between listing and unlisting, and come up with architectural scenarios that reengage or reimagine our built legacy, while considering its environmental impact?

Both listing and unlisting are about the future. Will the next generation agree with your choice or regret your blindness?