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Image prior to the intervention. The Viehmarktplatz at the foot of the medieval walls of Thun. © Jaqueline de Sà. 01-01-1970

BEFORE

images  (8)

AFTER
 

description

previous state

The Viehmarktplatz is at the foot of one of the many Mediaeval walls that are conserved in the city of Thun, specifically on part of the old graveyard along a stretch of fortified wall from the mid 13th century. The graveyard, which once contained allotments and rows of poplars, was filled in in the mid 19th century and a small cattle market was installed. In the 1970s, when the market was no longer there, it was used as a car park, and after most of the city markets moved to new sites, that became its main function, indeed, an exclusive and excluding one.

The impoverishment of activity in this space, which eventually turned it into a real graveyard, but for vehicles, with no clear urban content or assignment, wasted by the presence of cars, led to this project and the definition of its goals.

aim of the intervention

To transform the car park into a public space with a function in the city equal to the one that had been exercised by the old market. To free a space next to the wall while rebuilding and refurbishing it in coordination with the plan for redesigning the square. To strengthen the spatial elements of the historic wall area and the Zyro tower, sturdy landmarks and boundary markers of the old quarter of Thun. To obtain a transition space and a gateway to the precinct for occasional visitors and the inhabitants of Thun. In short, to recover its character as the portal of the original town, a rich intermediate space for transfer and exchange.

description

Understanding the square as a possible new element for clarifying and interpreting the space, the intervention took special care with the treatment of the ground and the horizontal surfaces. With the placement and geometry of the central body of the square, there could be a new reading of the topography, whilst the contrast produced by the neutrality and material character conferred on it emphasised the solid presence of the wall, which became a backdrop and the focus of a space which gained flexibility through the deliberate absence of urban furniture or gardens which could excessively condition its use or the overall view.

The paving of the central body is resolved with textured, chromed sheet steel and around it there are draining surfaces of gravel or slabs of natural stone as reminders of the time of the cattle market. The action defines a zone for the arrival and temporary parking of coaches and the movement of passengers. There is also a new pedestrian connection through the wall which improves access to the heart of the old quarter. Through the lighting, the project deepens the space of the square, dramatically pointing up the presence of the wall as a backdrop and guaranteeing good visibility and safety in the different areas.

assessment

The redesigning of the Viehmarkt square highlights the wall as a historic testimony; its tectonic nature is stressed by the lightness of the other materials used. From that confrontation, both the restored wall and the space next to it emerge reciprocally strengthened. Freeing the wall from the annoying company of the cars that not only interrupted the view but also hampered comfortable and pleasant movement by pedestrians towards the city centre means the pacification of a highly representative part of the history of Thun, and therefore a new beginning for an old place rediscovered and a broadening of the range of activities it will be able to host from now on.

Mònica Oliveres i Guixer, architect

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Detail of the paving with its chromium-plated steel surface with glass strips incorporating the lighting system. © Jaqueline de Sà. 01-01-1970

technical sheet

CITY: Thun (40,377 inhabitants)

COUNTRY: Switzerland

BEGINNING OF THE PROJECT: 1999

BEGINNING OF WORK: 2000

END OF WORK: 2001

AREA: 1,600 m2

COST: 722,000 €

credits

AUTHORS:

Scheffel Hadorn Schöntal, Architekten, Hans Klötzli, Klötzli + Friedli, LanschaftsarchitektIn HTL/BSLA/SWB

COLLABORATORS:

J. Wiederkehr, Daniel Gutscher