Architecture: the synthesis of beauty and functionality

Architecture is culture. It grants visual expression to historical periods and shapes the images of cities and nations. Those things that designers find pleasing, however, are not always in demand on the market. The interplay of architecture and marketing plays a crucial role in the successful leasing of a property.

June 30, 2021

modern city

Image: Colorful concrete facades complement the historic structural elements. The Praça das Artes (performing arts center) in São Paolo, Brazil, was built in 2012. It is ideally incorporated into the historic center of the megacity.

We are surrounded by architecture. The term encapsulates humanity’s approach to the built environment. The art of construction, i.e. architecture, serves to connect fundamental needs like a roof over one’s head with aesthetics and design.

An expression of societal development

In addition to serving the purposes for which they are erected, buildings are also time capsules. Their styles of construction provide information about different eras, political movements, and lifestyles. The cathedrals of the Middle Ages reflect the central role played by religion. Covered in ornamentation and filled with splendor, the Baroque buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries mainly served as monuments representative of aristocratic families and the Catholic Church. The age of flamboyance was succeeded by a period of architectural classicism with a trend toward clarity. This style was used to build museums, libraries, theaters, and galleries. The modern age brought about Art Nouveau with its plant-based motifs and curvatures, reintroducing nature into cities and creating a contrast to the machinery of industrialization. The modernism of the 20th century saw the focus shift toward functionality, and new building materials such as exposed concrete, glass, and steel found their way into architecture.

Contemporary needs

Architectural style reveals much more than what can be seen at first glance. Every building mirrors human culture, traditions, and needs.

Our fast-paced society demands flexibility, a fact that is also reflected in architecture. It is no surprise, for example, that multifunctional and flexible apartments are highly sought after.

“Our tenants prefer modern buildings, natural materials, and privacy,”

says Bettina Früh, property-marketing manager at Credit Suisse Asset Management Global Real Estate.

Businesses are also showing demand for properties with variable design options.

“Nowadays, companies often need plug-in solutions that make work convenient. They are also hunting for spaces that can be easily reconfigured depending on the desired work environment,”

explains Bruno Schuler, property-marketing manager at Credit Suisse Asset Management Global Real Estate.

Image: The Seattle Central Library is an eye-catcher. The glass-and-steel building was completed in 2004 and is known for its unusual form.

Exceptional architecture

Aesthetics are a central component of architecture. Modernism, for example, combines a variety of architectural movements that could not be more different. Brutalism is an especially expressionistic and bold form that remains polarizing even today. It is characterized by less inviting, monolithic, unadorned buildings of exposed concrete. In contrast, we find buildings designed according to deconstructivist architecture, with its playful approach to design and use of elements such as slanted walls and novel geometric forms. 

“Extraordinary architectural design serves primarily to represent something. For many companies today, their office building is a part of their corporate identity – and, depending on the building, they want the architect’s personal touch to come through,”

explains Schuler.

However, what architects consider special and exciting is often not in demand for residential properties.

Früh explains:

“Lofts are appealing, but residences with such unique floor plans are rarely leased.”

Attractive places to live (and work)

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

“When it comes to large buildings, we offer apartments in various sizes and layouts as well as different designs and features to appeal to a diverse clientele,”

explains Bettina Früh.

She knows that singles prefer open, contemporary spaces; people sharing an apartment value their privacy and rooms that are not situated right next to one another; and families want a clear distinction between living areas and sleeping quarters. For successful marketing, it is therefore essential to know the needs of the target groups or anticipate them during the planning stage. After all, what you build today also needs to be attractive tomorrow.


Interior architecture

Landscape architecture

Inner values

City dwellers often live in relatively limited spaces, renting their housing in metropolitan areas.

“Lifestyle and where one lives have become more important, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic,”

says Früh.

Special attention is being paid to interior design.

Floor plans, building materials, lighting, and colors all work together to affect how an apartment is perceived. This has led to the creation of a new field of study called “neuroarchitecture,” which deals less with the aesthetic aspects of real estate, instead addressing the psychological impact of spaces on human beings. These insights are incorporated directly into construction planning. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new discussion arose surrounding the potential offered by colors in room design. The architect Le Corbusier created a proprietary system of 63 colors that are coordinated to complement each other and can be combined with one another in any way.

Even ventilation and sources of noise and light are increasingly being subject to review. Healthcare architecture, for example, long considered a niche area of the construction industry, is gaining importance. Its approach with a focus on mental and physical well-being in combination with building planning can be applied to any kind of room – be it a residential property or office workspace.

Tapping into new (open) spaces

One trend being observed when it comes to residential properties is the revival of gardening and outdoor living spaces. Even in cities, people are gathering for picnics in parks, at the river for a cookout, or on their rooftops to tend their urban gardens together. Landscape architecture plays an important role by creating public parks, water parks for children, herb gardens, and outdoor retreats. The environment surrounding a building has become more important for residential as well as commercial properties.

In the rich Japanese architectural tradition, for example, nature is a part of the construction. This “Japanese style” is straightforward and connected to nature to a considerable extent. The architectural design consciously invites the outdoors in. Here again, we see culture’s influence on architecture. In Japanese, the word for “household” is written with two characters that come from Chinese: one meaning “house,” and one meaning “courtyard.”


The shift toward a greater connection with nature is also found in the “2226” building concept created by Prof. Dietmar Eberle. When applied, a building’s indoor temperature remains constant between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius – without heating or cooling. The residents and the proper orientation of the building in relation to the sun make that possible.

Demand is growing for buildings that are erected in harmony with nature, including in terms of the choice of materials and the use of local building traditions. Examples include the headquarters of a Zurich media company made of glass and spruce; the “Haus Eins” residence in Seelisberg, which consists of nothing but natural materials; and the Holzhochhaus timber high-rise building in Munich.

“In particular, major corporations are placing importance on environmental certification and offsetting carbon emissions,”

says Schuler.

Bettina Früh sums it up by stating, “It is becoming more and more important to achieve sustainability without sacrificing comfort.”

In this area as well, there is an undeniable need to find the right mixture between concepts, visions, and market demand.

Extravagant landscaping

Residence Pregny-Parc, Pregny-Chambésy

Luxurious with an exclusive location – Pregny-Parc in Pregny-Chambésy (GE) embodies these attributes. This residential complex was constructed in 2002 in the middle of the extension of a park featuring a magnificent château. Its proximity to the city of Geneva and the international organizations and diplomatic missions based there make the property an ideal place for an exclusive clientele to live, as do the park-like spaces which surround the 21 buildings containing 138 apartments. This green and pastoral location protects tenants’ privacy and offers them an especially high quality of life in close proximity to Lake Geneva.

Iconic facades

Escherpark, Zurich

Escherpark’s exterior features eye-catching vertical shuttering made entirely from spruce. The flame-treated and brushed finish makes the wooden cladding more weather-resistant and impervious to external influences. In total, Escherpark in Zurich-Enge comprises eleven apartment buildings containing 127 units. The sustainability aspect is not only reflected in the exterior design, but it also plays a crucial role in the interior. The Escherpark complex fulfills all requirements of Minergie ECO and Gold certification under the greenproperty quality seal. The folding sliding shutters for the floor-to-ceiling windows are also made of wood and make an elegant combination together with the wooden facade.

Vulcano, Zurich

Three shimmering black towers now serve as a new landmark in Zurich’s Altstetten district. The residential and commercial complex with a hotel was completed in 2018/2019 and consists of a five-story base and three 80-meter-high towers. The architectural design complements the dynamic urban space while reinforcing the spatial connection to the Limmat Valley. The base of the property is home to businesses including a grocery store, a daycare center, and a hotel with 319 rooms. The three towers hold 226 rental apartments and 72 business apartments, all arranged around the central elevator cores. Vulcano was already completely leased when the first tenants began moving in. As a unique feature of urban planning, noise protection glazing was installed in the areas between the towers. These overhanging glass roofs above the two inner courtyards serve to insulate the apartments above from sound.

Giessenturm, Dübendorf

The 85-meter-high Giessenturm in Dübendorf features a delicate, elegant facade. Finished at the beginning of 2021, Giessenturm is part of the Im Giessen complex. It encompasses a nursing care center, 80 retirement apartments, and 50 spacious 2.5- to 4.5-room apartments. The design of the facade takes both the physical, built-up environment and immaterial aspects such as history and the surrounding space into consideration. The bronze-colored materials evoke the site’s traditional brick facades. The warm and vibrant surface structures convey an atmosphere of well-being and a promise of living at the highest level.

Pergamin I, Greencity, Zurich

The iconic Pergamin I office building stands on the first certified 2,000-Watt Site in Switzerland. Completed in 2021 and certified under LEED Platinum Core and Shell, it offers a strategically ideal location in Zurich-Süd. The facades change in accordance with the viewing direction from the center of the district towards the north. The roof features a large terrace. Greencity achieves an elegant union of urbanity and sustainability.

Ceres Tower, Pratteln

The Ceres Tower, constructed in 2017, is 82 meters high and combines 90 apartments and 6,000 m2 of office space over 24 floors. The facade’s metallic cladding features a dark bronze finish, evoking the past tradition of the local foundry industry. The apartments on the top 15 floors offer an unparalleled view, while the floor-to-ceiling window fronts provide spaces flooded with light.

Pergamin II, Greencity, Zurich

An eleven-story high-rise with timeless elegance. At a height of roughly 40 meters, Pergamin II serves as a striking landmark visible from afar. Thanks to its delicate, high-quality facade design employing anodized sheet aluminum in bronze and natural colors, the building serves as an anchor for the identities of the residents and the district as a whole. Pergamin II is distinguished by its clearly structured floor plans featuring a highly efficient use of space and a great deal of natural light. The building’s cutting-edge educational and office spaces ensure optimal conditions for learning, working, and living thanks to the use of natural ventilation options and well-thought-out spatial layouts. It has been certified under LEED Platinum Core and Shell. Pergamin II has also received greenproperty Gold certification, Switzerland’s first comprehensive quality seal for sustainable real estate using an ESG approach.

High-quality materials

Lago Blu, Kilchberg

An unparalleled living experience with a waterfront location. Zurich’s Kilchberg district is booming. On the shores of Lake Zurich, these seven exclusive rental apartments were completed in 2020. The inviting architecture with a Mediterranean flair features a winning combination of bright rooms, spacious floor plans, and charm. The materials employed consist of an elegant mix of glass, metal, and concrete. Numerous extra amenities turn living into an experience. Lago Blu offers an attractive level of comfort in every regard. The property was fully leased when the first tenants moved in.

Hardhof, Bülachguss, Bülach

A standard of construction that leaves nothing to be desired. A new district has come into being in this former industrial area north of Bülach. The new neighborhood includes Hardhof, which was completed in fall 2019. The complex consists of three residential buildings grouped around a rectangular inner courtyard. The light-flooded apartments create an atmosphere of modern living. The high standards of construction ensure optimal comfort. This includes elements such as oak parquet floors, exterior blinds, and attractive balcony drapes made of bright linen. Hardhof’s eye-catching brick facade is guaranteed to turn heads.

Postgebäude, Chur

Cutting-edge technology in a magnificent, protected historic building. The “Alte Post” is the largest Neo-Renaissance building in Chur. It was closed and renovated at the end of 2016. Just two years later, the building’s interior had been entirely transformed. The property now serves as a café and library – a place for meeting, discussion, and learning. The historic natural stone facade remains intact. It features a fascinating interplay with the understated interior of the library. The result is a space marked by cozy niches and lounge areas.,

Extraordinary architecture

The Exchange, Vancouver (Canada)

Modern architecture meets a historic structure. Built in 1929, Vancouver’s old stock exchange can look back on a rich history. Following acquisition in 2011, the property in the center of the financial district was given a visionary renovation. The eleven floors of the former stock exchange are now supplemented by the addition of a 31-story office tower. At a height of 116 meters, The Exchange is now the tallest office building in Vancouver with LEED Platinum certification. This signifies considerable savings and increases in efficiency: a 35% reduction in energy costs, 50% reduction in energy consumption, and 85% reduction in carbon emissions. After completion, the property was honored with the 2017 Architecture Prize for Heritage Architecture.

Largo, Liebefeld

Living and working under the same roof. The former office areas from 1925 and 1947 have largely been repurposed for residential use. As of the end of 2020, 54 apartments of between 2.5 and 4.5 rooms along with flexible studio and commercial spaces had been created. The new spaces have been very well received. Largo was already completely leased out when the first tenants moved in to the building. The needs-oriented mix of residential spaces is optimally integrated into the existing building stock and is distinguished by light-flooded rooms with high ceilings. A spacious, green inner courtyard serves as a pleasant social area. The sunny and spacious balconies offer tantalizing opportunities to kick back and relax, adding additional value to the property.

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Source: Credit Suisse, otherwise specified.
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