After completing their degrees at the ETH Zurich, Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein traveled for two months through Italy on a grant from the Ernst Schindler Foundation in 1998. This classical “journey through Italy” led from Verona through Vicenza, Venice, Padua and Ravenna to Bologna, and further on through Rimini and Urbino, to Arezzo and Florence. From there the journey went through Siena, Pienza, Bagnaia and Caprarola to Rome and ended in Naples. During their travels, they took 1,200 35-mm slides of buildings, rooms and places they purposely sought out or came upon accidentally.
These photographs now form the center of the exhibition in which they indirectly illustrate Christ & Gantenbein’s understanding of architecture. The spectrum of photographic impressions are projected on the wall with a simple slide projector: classical examples of architecture through icons of modernity to anonymous witnesses of Italian building culture. An audio-commentary, in which Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein interpret the photographs and explain the influence the trip through Italy had on their understanding of architecture, completes the visual journey. On the basis of these subjective impressions, the exhibition communicates a contemporary position in architecture through atmospheric, systematic and concrete references. A fundamental component of the exhibition concept is the book Pictures from Italy published parallel to the exhibition, comparing images from Christ & Gantenbein’s architecture with photographs from their trip through Italy.
Since the establishment of their office in 1998, Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein have made a name for themselves with a number of buildings and projects of very different scales worldwide. In the last few years these projects include: the Ancient Tree Pavilion in China (2007); the renovation and extension to the National Museum in Zurich (since 2002); the conversion of the Swiss Church in London (2010); as well as the residential and commercial building project VoltaMitte in Basle (2010), among others. In 2010, the office won the competition to build the extension to the Kunstmuseum in Basle that will be completed in 2015.