Art Nouveau in Switzerland
13 August 2021
Switzerland is not in the top ten for Art Nouveau or Jugendstil architecture. the style was introduced in the years just before 1900 n the larger cities and especially in the Grand Hotels of the Belle Époque,
This period’s hotel and sanatorium architecture was the first to implement Art Nouveau. The enormous growth of (spa) tourism from (Western) Europe and the USA coincided with the heyday of this style in the United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Belgium, France and Germany.
Art Nouveau was taken for granted. Moreover, these hotels and sanatoria were often in or never far from nature, and Art Nouveau was closely linked to nature and geometric motifs.
In the larger cities, Art Nouveau was less prominent present. Mainly industrialists commissioned buildings and decorations in this style due to their network in these countries.
The Chachelihüser (stove houses), the Pfauen complex, the Villa Tobler and the Gublerhaus are the best-known examples in Zurich.
The Paulus Church in Basel, the surrounding district, and the Globus department store complex on the Marktplatz are good examples in Basel.
The crematorium (Crématoire) in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the magnificent frescoes by Charles L´Eplattenier (1874-1946), a teacher of Le Corbusier, can compete with Art Nouveau in Belgium or France. L’Eplattenier created a Style Sapin variant.
The villa Waldbüel in Uzwil (canton of St. Gallen) by the mechanical engineer Theodor Bühler (1877-1915) by the English architect MacKay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865-1945) is another story.
After a stay in England, the industrialist had this villa built or rebuilt between 1907 and 1911 in the Art Nouveau style, but he combined it with the Arts and Crafts movement that was very popular in England.
Apart from these buildings are several other residential houses, factories, department stores, and other structures with Art Nouveau features in various parts of the country, especially where industrialists or other European networkers were present.
(Source: T. Richter, ´Jugendstilarchitektur in der Schweiz´, in Kunst + Architektur, Nr. 2, 2021, GSK, Bern).