Swiss architect shares his secrets

Abby Fisher

Lecterns. Sacha Menz calls them desks – and he hates speaking from them.

“I feel like a clerk standing behind these,” he said.

The Swiss architect addressed approximately 200 students and faculty last night in the Kiva. Lecturing on “Swiss Building: Strategies and Competence,” Menz presented his work with SAM Architects & Partners in Zurich, Switzerland.

Menz told students they need to know where their place was in the scheme of a construction site.

“Architecture is never done alone – there are always lots of people involved in the building process,” he said. “We work in a team to achieve a building.”

Menz showed selections of his work in Switzerland and the United States while speaking about building production costs. One of the cultural differences in Swiss architecture is that the architect works directly with the client.

“In Switzerland, you always work with the boss,” he said. “You don’t go through a developer, so the person you’re working with will own the building.”

One of Menz’s firms’ innovative ideas was creating catwalks on the outside of a building and using sunshades to keep energy costs down.

“We don’t want to spend money on energy and technology installations,” he said. “Technology installation in Switzerland is 40 percent of the building costs.”

Menz also used a concrete ceiling to run water pipes that cool rooms down. They cost less than using air conditioning, he said.

Sophomore architecture major Danny Wills noted the differences between Swiss and American architecture.

“The Swiss is more about the building process,” he said. “It was interesting to see how he used simple materials for dramatic effects.”

Menz discussed how a common meeting area is essential for office buildings.

“There has to be one point in the building where you meet people,” he said. “It must be a point of gravity.”

Junior architecture major Rachel Schad said the common meeting area was an interesting concept.

Contact ROTC and College of Architecture and Environmental Design reporter Abby Fisher at [email protected].