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Exhibition view from “Christ & Gantenbein”

Christ & Gantenbein 10 Models

In their exhibition, Christ & Gantenbein present a curated collection of ten architectural models from various phases of their 25 years of practice. These models were deliberately chosen to reflect the profound changes that have taken place in architecture over the past two decades. At the same time, they illuminate recurring themes within Christ & Gantenbein’s work, such as building with and in existing structures, architecture as a technical discipline, sustainable urban development, building typologies, and designing spaces for art. These specific challenges manifest in simple yet striking objects that present architectural models as representations of a distinct reality while simultaneously stimulating ideas for alternate possibilities. At a time when artificial intelligence prompts us to question our perception and relationship to authenticity, the physical architectural model stands as a tribute to the imagination.

The three-dimensional objects are complemented by photographs of models taken by Stefano Graziani, introducing the concept of documentation and raising questions about the objectivity of photography. They were created in the Christ & Gantenbein archive and demonstrate the search for selection, order, and presentation as an independent project. The large-format prints engage in dialogue with the physical objects, fostering connections beyond their spatial context.

With their exhibition, Christ & Gantenbein invite visitors to explore the open narratives embodied in both the real and photographed architectural models. At the same time, each model exemplifies meticulous craftsmanship. Considerations such as joining techniques, material selection, and proportions are approached as intentional decisions, similar to actual architectural projects. As the models each highlight a specific aspect, they showcase striking diversity in scale, materiality, and precision. This variety epitomizes Christ & Gantenbein’s undogmatic approach to architecture, solely guided by typology and context. In the exhibition, the models become part of a thought-provoking order that challenges the perception of each project as an isolated entity and encourages the exploration of common themes and attributes.

Christ & Gantenbein was founded in Basel in 1998 by Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein. Among their most notable projects are the extensions to the Swiss National Museum in Zurich (2016) and Kunstmuseum Basel (2016). In Germany, they realized the Roche Multifunctional Workspace Building (2021), while their extension of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud is in planning, and a multi-purpose residential and office building in Hamburg is under construction. Recently completed projects include the New Aare Bridge in Aarau (2023) and the Vaugirard Housing social housing development in Paris (2023). In addition to their architectural practice, Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein both hold teaching positions at ETH Zurich. The first monograph by Christ & Gantenbein will be published in summer 2024 (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König).

The artist Stefano Graziani works across the fields of photography, art, and architecture. He has been documenting the architecture of Christ & Gantenbein for many years. His work has been featured at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Manifesta European Art Biennial, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, among others. Stefano Graziani has taught at the IUAV University of Venice, NABA in Milan, and ISIA in Urbino.

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