Kenzo Tange Lecture: Christ & Gantenbein and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, interviewed by Jeannette Kuo
Swiss architects Emanuel Christ, born 1970, and Christoph Gantenbein, born 1971, both graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 1998. In the same year they founded their firm Christ & Gantenbein in Basel. The office’s activity extends to a broad spectrum of projects—private and public commissions, ranging from small transformations, to housing, office buildings, bridges, and urban master plans. One of their main focal points is museum architecture: They are currently planning an extension to Basel’s Kunstmuseum, the renovation and extension of the Swiss National Museum in Zurich as well as an extension to the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud in Cologne. Completed projects are to be found in Switzerland, Germany, England, China and Mexico.
Parallel to the firm’s activity, Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein have been involved in academic teaching in different schools (ETH Studio Basel, HGK in Basel, Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, among other institutes). Since 2010 they have been teaching together as professors at the ETH Zurich, where they research architectural typologies of the urban city.
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen was founded in 2002 by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which realisations and theoretical projects stand side by side. The projects are direct, spatial and firmly rooted in architectural theory. The firm reduces architecture to its very essence and most original form: a limited set of basic geometric rules is used to create a framework within which life unfolds out in all its complexity.
Since its establishment OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen has earned a reputation as one of Belgium’s most successful and renowned practices, and one of the world’s truly original voices in present-day architecture. OFFICE engages in all architectural and urbanist design, creating projects of all scales ranging from furniture to masterplanning in Belgium as well as internationally. This practice is combined with academic research and teaching. These two aspects of OFFICE’s work are explicitly each other’s mirror, creating unexpected parallels between academic and practical work.
Jeannette Kuo is Assistant Professor in Practice at Harvard GSD and founding partner of KARAMUK KUO. Established in 2010 with Ünal Karamuk, the work of the office focuses on the intersection of spatial concepts and constructive technologies, recognizing architecture as a social and material discipline. The office works on projects of a range of scales, from schools and housing to complex cultural projects. In 2018, KARAMUK KUO was featured in issue 196 of El Croquis monographs. Recent projects include the International Sports Sciences Institute, the Augusta Raurica Archaeological Center, Weiden Secondary School, and Cham Apartments. In 2020 they were recognized by Domus as one of the 50 best architectural firms of the year.