Page 2 - Daniel Libeskind: Inspirations
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Daniel Libeskind | Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG | Zürich, Switzerland
Libeskind’s voracious love of the arts imbues his innovative and symbolic designs with the philosophy, art, literature, and music that most inspire him. Libeskind’s process is at once illuminating and mysterious. He ruminates, “How do I know what to design? People often ask me that, and I’m never quite sure how to answer, because my approach
is less than orthodox, and even I don’t always understand the process. Sometimes my thoughts are triggered by a piece of music or poem, or simply by the way light falls on a wall. My design philosophy is based in my view that architecture itself is com- municative. Each of my buildings tells a unique and particular story reflecting both the programmatic content and the singularity of the site. Fundamental to my thinking and motivation is that buildings and urban projects are crafted with perceptible human energy and that they speak to the larger cultural community in which they are built.”
Westside shopping and Leisure Center: destination Within a destination
Spanning over 120,000 square meters,
The Westside Shopping and Leisure Center is more than a site for recreation—it is a city unto itself. At the time of its inception in 2005, it was the largest private construction site in Switzerland. Located in Bern-Brünnen, the award-winning design includes 55 shops, 10 restaurants and bars, a bath, a hotel, a multiplex cinema, a senior residence, a wellness center, and a number of apartments. The mix of services ensures that the center is active both day and night. Libeskind got the idea from an unlikely source—the Marx Brothers. He explains, “Westside was actually inspired by the 1941 Marx Brothers‘ film The Big Store. They move into a store, and after the store closes, they start using the beds
and the kitchen. I thought, ‘This is the right idea.’ People should live there. It shouldn’t be just an abstract experience. People should own it— emotionally and intellectually. They should feel
that this is their home.”
Westside was conceived in a design scheme called “Nexus,” the Latin word for “connection.” It operates as an independent city connected to the outside environment, but is also self-sufficiently organized. Linked to the tram and the BERNMOBIL transport network, Westside also has its own completely integrated traffic and parking system. It claims prime real estate just above the A1 highway, creat- ing a wide gateway into the city. It is also artfully integrated into the surrounding climate with natural effects like a multi-layered Robinia wood façade that mirrors the rural countryside to the west.
The ground plan features hard right angles that
are softened by inclined walls. There are upper
and lower rooms plastered in white, open alleys,
and two plazas that mark the passage of time with shadows from their roof cuts. One plaza represents the day, and opens to the landscape and the bath. The other is the night, connecting to both the cinema and hotel and offering space for dining and other nightlife. Crystal blocks in the shopping center func- tion as vertical platforms, rising through the straight right angles to welcome natural light. The building features a variety of partly dark, tanned window cuts as well. At night these light up, so the building fades away and the cuts become the design.
The Westside Shopping and Leisure Center in Bern-Brünnen, Switzerland receives between 15,000-20,000 visitors each day.

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