25.11.2023 - 07.04.2024

What if

Unbuilt Architecture in Switzerland

Very few countries give their population such a far-reaching democratic right of co-determination in the realisation of architecture and urbanism as does Switzerland. While this has produced a democratically approved architecture that is unique in the world, it has also prevented numerous projects from becoming part of the country’s built history.  
Whether lost, rejected, stalled or changed …  there is a multitude of architectural designs that continue to be talked about to this day in Switzerland, even though they have never been executed. Those longed for, but not realised works are not single episodes but part of the everyday life of any architecture office, no matter how spoilt with success it may be.
In dialogue with almost two dozen architectural institutions from all parts of the country, What If attempts to make a representative selection from an nearly infinite pool of projects. These projects combined draw a picture of an alternative Switzerland, in which the courage to embrace utopia is greater than the fear of avoiding mistakes.
Curator: Andreas Kofler

S AM Swiss Architecture Museum, Andreas Kofler, Andreas Ruby (EDS.):
Was wäre wenn / What ifChristoph Merian Verlag, ISBN 978-3-85616-997-8,358 pages, D/E, CHF 49.–

The exhibition is conceived in dialogue with:
Architektur Forum Ostschweiz, Architekturforum Biel / Forum de l’architecture Bienne, Architekturforum im Touringhaus Solothurn, Architekturforum Obersee, Architekturforum Thun, Architekturforum Zürich, ArchitekturForumBern, Archives de la construction moderne (Acm) and Archizoom, Archivio del Moderno, BauForumZug, Das Gelbe Haus, FAR Forum d’Architectures, Forum Architektur Winterthur, Glarner Architekturforum, gta Exhibitions, Istituto Internazionale di Architettura (i2a), Fondation Pavillon Sicli, Schaffhauser Architektur Forum, Teatro dell’architettura, ZAZ Bellerive – Zentrum Architektur Zürich. 

With projects from:
Architekturforum Obersee; Mario Botta; Martin H. Burckhardt; Caruso St John, Thomas Demand; Consiglio di Stato della Repubblica e Cantone Ticino; Aurelio Galfetti, Jachen Könz; Godfrey Grima, George Grima, André Bornet; Herzog & de Meuron; Kantonsingenieur des Kantons Zug; Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret; Hans Leuzinger; P.M.; Morphosis; Jean Nouvel, Emmanuel Cattani; Luigi Snozzi, Bruno Jenni; Tiefbauamt des Kantons Bern, Stadtplanung der Stadt Biel; Bernard Tschumi, Luca Merlini; Jean Tschumi; Werner Stücheli, Jørn Utzon.

The Competition (2013), Angel Borrego Cubero. With Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Dominique Perrault.


1. Bundeshauserweiterung, Bern, Skizze Mario Botta (1991), Mario Botta Architetti
2. The Competition © Angel Borrego Cubero
3. Neues Schauspielhaus, Jørn-Utzon, Zürich, 1963-1973 Überarbeitetes Projekt 1969 Quelle: Baugeschichtliches Archiv der Stadt Zürich
4. 7132 Hotel & Arrival Morphosis, Vals, 2014-2017, © Morphosis

Press material (German, English): here
Exhibition flyer: here

The exhibition and publication ‘What if’ is supported by:

Exhibition Partner:

Research Partner:
Le Concours Suisse

S AM Supporters:
Kanton Basel-Stadt
Christoph Merian Stiftung

S AM Sponsor:
ComputerWorks AG

S AM Partners:
Karl Bubenhofer AG
Gremper AG

Upcoming exhibitions

19.10.2024 - 16.03.2025

Soft Power: The Brussels Way of Making the City

Over the last few decades, Belgium has established itself as a powerhouse of contemporary architecture. How do they do it? Taking Brussels as a case study, this show delves into the political and social infrastructure needed for a high-quality culture of building.

Curators: Roxane Le Grelle, Andreas Kofler (S AM)