Text from Novartis
The gate at the north end
Tadao Ando designed a super elevated triangular structure for the north end of Fabrikstrasse that incorporates the form of the plot of land. The result is a laboratory building of great austerity, precision and functional beauty, which expresses – as Ando puts it – “the unique clarity and perfection of Switzerland with the delicacy and skill of Japan”. With its monumental south facade, which ends in a narrow peak, and the panels of finest face concrete, which produces an unmistakable surface pattern with the strap holes, the building forms a dramatic conclusion to Fabrikstrasse.
The building’s triangular footprint results in a strict geometric composition, with legs running to an extreme peak angle of 20 degrees. The triangular forms repeat and interpenetrate. By cutting out triangular empty spaces – such as the inner courtyards, the terrace in the south facade, the multistory atrium in the peak or also the entrance hall – rectangular inner spaces are produced that are readily usable. In the acute angle of the triangle multistory atria flooded with light are created that are conceived as places of possible retreat for users of the building.
To underline the purity of the structure, the architect used only a few plain materials. In their interplay, concrete, steel, aluminum and glass create the special effect of the architectural space. The immaculate face concrete walls with traces of the shuttering panels are the construction module and standardized measure of the architect’s design system, in which concrete is seen as the body and soul of his architecture.