There couldn’t be a bigger contrast between the FIFA World Headquarters and Widder Hotel, both located in Zürich.
The former is a glass-fronted complex surrounded by a woven stainless steel fabric mounted on anodized aluminum rods, a structure built for the organization that governs association football worldwide.
The latter is a luxury boutique hotel housed in eight 14th century townhouses, which were home to gentry, merchants, artisans and the heads of the local guilds.
The common denominator of these two projects is the enormous challenge they represented – a motivation that’s not foreign to their architect, Tilla Theus.
Tilla Theus, a Swiss architect who lives in Zürich, does not shy away from grand projects, and has a particular passion for restoration. During her long career, she’s taken on a few of these – Krone restaurant in Dietikon, Switzerland and the headquarters of Swiss Re, an insurance company, for example.
Characteristically, Tilla Theus strives to connect the old with the new, through passageways, staircases and glass roofs above courtyards. When she built a community center in Unterengstringen near Zürich in 2017, she was lauded for her commitment to expressing the town’s identity through form and materials that united tradition and progress: a gabled roof, windowed pediments and an anodized aluminium façade bearing the symbols on the town’s 18th century coat of arms.
During the decade-long conversion of the Widder Hotel, Tilla Theus made use of this signature modus operandi. She introduced chrome, steel and glass into the centuries old structures, in a way that tactfully complements the old stone walls and wooden beams.
Tilla Theus preserved those elements that give character all the while utilizing modern and innovative materials and techniques where the rules of construction required them. In 1995, the restoration was completed. The eight entities were fused into a single hotel that had maintained its 700-year old soul.
Staying at the Widder Hotel means an immersion into an authentic part of Zürich old town’s history, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere that juxtaposes contemporary design with a medieval framework. The hotel is also just a stroll away from the city’s eponymous lake and stunning Alpine panorama. With these historical references and natural beauty within arm’s length, there’s no better way to experience Zürich than through Tilla Theus’ unique architectural vision.