'Swissness Applied,' an exhibition by Architecture Office, Opens at Yale Architecture Gallery on January 9, 2020

'Swissness Applied,' an exhibition by Architecture Office, Opens at Yale Architecture Gallery on January 9, 2020

Installation photography now available

Access Full Press Kit

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT - Swissness Applied is a traveling exhibition by Swiss­-born architect Nicole McIntosh, co­founder of Architecture Office. The third iteration of the exhibition will be on view at Yale Architecture Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut from January 9 - February 15, 2020. The design for Swissness Applied was recently lauded as an honoree by Interior Design Magazine in the exhibition design category for the 2019 Best of Year Awards. The exhibition was initially presented at SARUP Gallery at the University of Wisconsin, ­Milwaukee School of Architecture & Urban Planning from April 12 - May 3, 2019, and later exhibited at  Kunsthaus Glarus Güterschuppen in Switzerland from September 21 - November 10, 2019.

Consisting of both documentation and original architectural explorations, Swissness Applied is part of a larger research project that focuses on the transformation of European immigrant towns in the United States, all of whom share the common aspiration of preserving and perpetuating the architecture of their cultural heritage. The project contributes to the ongoing discussion on the role of imagery and appropriation in architecture, urban design and planning.

Spread across the American landscape are enclaves that exude characteristics of their European antecedents. Towns such as: Frankenmuth, Michigan; Solvang, California; or New Glarus, Wisconsin have been appropriated within the American landscape by the immigrants they were founded by (from Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland, respectively). Highly curated, and containing imported historic forms of traditional architectural styles, they exude what we can identify as German, Danish, or Swiss design motifs.

New Glarus is a special example of such a town, and the focus of Swissness Applied. Founded by Swiss settlers in 1845, it evolved from a dairy farming and cheese production village into a popular tourist destination. After suffering through an economic downturn in the 1950s, the town discovered that embracing the image of its cultural heritage to appeal to tourists could help it survive. Local businessmen, some native to Switzerland, started "Swissifying" their commercial building facades, eventually resulting in a town comprised largely of traditional Swiss architectural details.

These architectural features have since been codified, both to preserve the old buildings and regulate the aesthetic of new ones. Since 1999, Chapter 118: Building Construction, Article II: Swiss Architectural Theme in New Glarus building code offers guidelines that enforce the use of typical elements of the Swiss Chalet style. Using illustrations in seven picture books, and a collection of 41 photographs and postcards as examples, the code references a variety of traditional chalet styles in the cantons of Switzerland. However, in its entirety, the code and collection of images works to simplify many very distinct versions of "Swissness" in architecture into one composed style that is recognizable as, simply, Swiss. For this reason, New Glarus is a clear example of the generative form of urban mutation that such “theme” towns can produce.

The exhibition Swissness Applied explores New Glarus through architectural drawings, models and photographs, questioning the translation of the cultural image in architecture, and illustrating the consequences of themed building codes through representational means. The exhibition at Yale consists of 42 architectural models in total; 24 of the models in the show document actual buildings evincing Swiss characteristics in New Glarus, and are accompanied by a drawing series. Of these 24, 10 are monochromatic wooden models that represent the buildings and local construction techniques in New Glarus (subtitled Tell No Cabbage), and 14 are paper models built from unfolded front elevations that represent existing buildings’ overall form and shape in New Glarus (subtitled John what Henri). The remaining 18 models are fictional building forms that use the building codes as a way to explore alternative interpretations of Swiss architecture (subtitled It has as long as it has). The fictional models, designed by Architecture Office, remix building elements of Swiss architecture using Swiss­-themed Faller model kits, to exaggerate or re­interpret the same architectural details to produce new associations, and further distill the process of “Swissifying."

The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the Consulate General of Switzerland in NY, Texas A&M University, Yale Architecture, Yale Architecture Ph.D. Dialogues, Yale MacMillan Center European Studies Council.

Exhibition Opening:  Friday, January 10, 2020, 1PM // Yale Architecture Gallery, 180 York Street, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Gallery Talk: Thursday, February 13, 2020, 1PM // Yale Architecture Gallery, 180 York Street, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Panel Discussion - "Image Architecture Place": Thursday, February 13, 2020, 6:30 PM // Yale Architecture Gallery, 180 York Street, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Final Exhibition Photography by Michael Vahrenwald/Esto

Images Below from Swissness Applied at Kunsthaus Glarus Güterschuppen in Switzlerand (September 21 - November 10, 201):

Images Below from Swissness Applied at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's School of Architecture + Urban Planning (April 12 - May 3, 2019):


About Architecture Office

Architecture Office is an award-winning architecture and design firm located near Austin, Texas. Led by principals Nicole McIntosh and Jonathan Louie, the practice is influenced by imagery that creates new contexts for architecture. 

Architecture Office’s abilities lie in consulting, design, and planning to build distinct identities for their clients. They transform the values and positioning of client’s ideas into customized living and working environments. The principals have experience working on a wide variety of scales, from restaurants and shared workspaces to single-family residences.

The work of the office has been published both nationally and internationally, and the principals regularly lecture about their work for both professional and academic audiences.  Architecture Office was the recipient of The Architectural League of New York’s League Prize (2017). Their restaurant design, All Square, was named by Time Magazine as one of 2019's '100 Greatest Places'. They also received Honorable Mentions award recognition for design work from The Architect’s Newspaper (2018, 2019), Interior Design (2020), and Frame Magazine (2018). Current work includes a traveling exhibition, ‘Swissness Applied’, that was exhibited at SARUP Gallery at the University of Wisconsin (2019), Kunsthaus Glarus (2019), and Yale Architecture Gallery (2020).

Nicole McIntosh (MSc. Arch ETH SIA) received an MSc in architecture from ETH Zürich. She was previously a Teaching Fellow at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West. Jonathan Louie holds an MArch from UCLA with Distinction. He previously spent time in Peterborough, New Hampshire as a MacDowell Colony Fellow. They are both faculty at Texas A&M Department of Architecture.