2021, MacIver-Ek Chevroulet

In the heart of the city and yet completely detached from it, the Messe is a Swiss interpretation of the hortus conclusus. By placing the entrance on Isteinerstrasse, the event looks towards the Messe complex and turns its back on the busy Riehenring. Hall 1’ s perfectly flat glazed facade feigns transparency though constantly reflects its surroundings. As the only publicly funded event in the midst of the liberal art world, the Swiss Art Awards is eager to have its share of the fun.
By reconciling with its backdoor lover – the city – it might just find its mojo. A large window is pushed out towards the Riehenring, creating a hole in the otherwise perfectly sealed facade. Attached to the monumental beam, a suspended platform slides up and down the building. On the street level, the operator lets you hop in. Feeling the breeze in your hair and enjoying the view, the platform smoothly climbs. Eleven meters above the ground, passengers head through the gap left by the displaced window. Visitors inside the exhibition see people start to appear from this hole and wonder if this is part of the show. The city starts to leak into the building.
About moving rather than adding, the project winks to Lucius and Annemarie Burckhardt’s principle of the minimal intervention: design is replaced by observation and matter by precision. A careful recomposition of the existing layers of the facade turns the building around, opening it towards the city. The only element disrupting the perfect flatness of the facade, Deliberate Leak creates a quiet oscillation along the Riehenring. An ode to the everyday, the building maintenance, and the vas-et-viens of the trams passing by.
Laureate project of the architecture category of the Swiss Art Competition 2021 organized by the Federal Office of Culture, Deliberate Leak is a project by MacIver-Ek Chevroulet, lead by Meryl Barthe.
Thanks to Ville de Neuchâtel and with the kind support of Ikea Foundation Switzerland.