A motorway cover as a new urban landmark, can that work?
US architect Daniel Libeskind shows how it’s done with his futuristic Westside project. He has created a large-scale leisure and shopping center above the A1 near Bern.
It combines shopping, swimming, cinema and much more into an extraordinary visitor experience with direct transport connections.
It’s early October and still early in the morning. A delicate layer of hoarfrost lies on the lawns and the wooden facade. With the camera in my hand I look at a building made of sheet steel, robinia wood and concrete shrouded in steam.
The architecture is typically Libeskind, fragmented and sharp-angled, and contrasts with the curves of the towering BernAqua water slide.
The BernAqua is a large adventure pool, which is how I came across the Westside in the first place during my architectural research.
It’s really a pity that I’m not allowed to photograph this part from the inside due to the special hygiene rules in the pandemic.
But the Westside has a lot more to offer in terms of architecture and I make full use of these opportunities. All day long I let myself be driven by the course of the sun and the resulting lighting moods over the area and through the buildings. First I let the architecture work on me and try to recognize the different connections. I look for details, materials, types of construction and the interplay with the environment and the visitors. There are always exciting architectural shots, especially in the dynamic, white interior. Like a little boy, I am happy about the resulting pictures and almost completely forget the time in my flow.
The Westside is quite an impressive complex, attracting around 5.5 million visitors a year.
Here are just a few brief facts to give you an overview:
65 shops, 14 restaurants, bars and cafés, the Bernaqua adventure pool, an indoor and outdoor children’s area, a multiplex cinema with 11 halls, the Holiday Inn Hotel with 144 rooms and a congress center, a petrol station, a train station, 1275 parking spaces, an attached senior citizens’ residence with 94 Apartments and 21 nursing single rooms, a medical center and a fitness center. All of this built to the Minenergie standard and a sophisticated energy control system.
The journey is possible due to a direct transport connection by bus, tram and train, as well as by car and bicycle.
I myself came with my camper. The Westside was just one stage on my three-week architectural journey through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Now, at the end of an eventful day at the Westside, I’m a little exhausted, but at the same time I’m very satisfied with the resulting image material for this photo report.
Tomorrow we will continue, the next two exciting milestones are already waiting for me. The Law Library and Stadelhofen Train Station by Santiago Calatrava in Zurich.