Bijou or blunder?

Extended until october 27
Building culture is a matter of negotiation: What can or must be torn down to make way for something new? Who determines what is valuable and worthy of protection? This exhibition takes a light-hearted approach in encouraging us to look at our built environment and the different attitudes it inspires. It presents debates and deliberations, players and protagonists, conveying interesting facts about the protection of historical monuments and inviting the public to reflect on good building, but also to take a clear stand. Because everyone is affected by built world around us. An exhibition (d/f) for people with a discerning eye held within an architectural bijou that was itself long the subject of negotiations.

Diving into the «speech bubble forest», it becomes clear that the debates and opinions around demolition and climate, housing demands, ugly, impractical or historically valuable buildings are wide-ranging and part of day-to-day life. The exhibition poses questions on topics of negotiation in contemporary building culture and opens up the discussion: Who decides what is worth protecting? To what extent is participation in building culture possible? And why is the qualitative criterion of «beauty» also a matter of negotiation?

Ausstellung Heimatschutzzentrum Ausstellung Heimatschutzzentrum
(c) Noah Santer

Committed to building culture

The discourse on building culture is dominated by experts, but the participation of the population is becoming increasingly important – and is desirable. In order to achieve a «high-quality building culture», as called for in the «Davos Declaration» of the European Ministers of Culture from 2018, civic participation and public awareness are key.
Four short films provide an insight into ways citizens are getting involved on behalf of their surroundings – be it with political activities or very directly with hands-on participation in restoration projects. 

Oh, so beautiful!

Beauty plays an important role in the discussion of building culture: what we judge as beautiful today might have been torn down without hesitation a few years ago. The demolition of the Villa Patumbah was also under discussion in the 1970s. Listen to how ideas of beautiful and good architecture have changed over time in the «beautiful» ladies’ salon. 

Ausstellung Heimatschutzzentrum Ausstellung Heimatschutzzentrum
(c) Noah Santer

Or can that go?

And what if a building is now demolished? Before-and-after images make the change tangible and the «demolition heap» gives an idea of how resources and grey energy are consumed in the current wave of demolitions. The present debate on climate change clearly shows that a shift towards conservation in the building sector – which is responsible for large amounts of emissions – is also advisable from an ecological viewpoint. 

Activity programme for exhibition

Concept, texts, education:

Judith Schubiger, Raffaella Popp, Patrik Blaser, Heimatschutzzentrum, Bettina Riedrich, zwischendrin


gasser, derungs, Innenarchitekturen

Graphics, advertising materials

Stillhart Konzept

Financial support:

Bundesamt für Kultur BAK, Cassinelli-Vogel Stiftung, Oertli-Stiftung, Freunde der Villa Patumbah