EM2N same same but different


The exhibition juxtaposes what are currently EM2N’s largest projects: The Toni Areal in Zurich and the Mongolian School in Ordos, China.

At the Toni Areal, a former milk factory will be converted into a university campus for around 3,000 students at the newly established Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). This conversion project, as a hybrid, vertically organized, highly-compressed networking machine, fills a development site in a formerly industrial area on the west side of Zurich.

The Mongolian School is a boarding school for approximately 3,000 students in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. It is being constructed on an empty lot on the periphery of a new city being planned from scratch. The horizontally organized campus, composed of courtyards and green spaces, connects to public space within the thus empty and undeveloped context.

The exhibition addresses commonalities and differences of these two school projects. At the focus are issues of dealing with the general public and public space, as well as the dissimilitude in spatial concept, i.e. that of vertical layering in Zurich and horizontal expansion in Ordos. Not least of all, the context is illuminated: converting an existing industrial icon; and planning from absolutely nothing in the middle of a semi-desert. The two situations could not be more diametrically opposed.

For the comparison, EM2N specifically activated the exhibition space’s dialectical room structure (box, two windows, four walls). Both shop windows become illuminated images and show photographs of the existing Toni Factory next to the landscape in Ordos.
The direct comparison of texts, plans, models, diagrams, references and visualizations invite further discussion.
The Zurich-based office EM2N was founded in 1997 and is directed by Matthias Müller and Daniel Niggli.