For many years, editors of the magazine Hochparterre have each portrayed a person or a couple who have left their mark on design or architecture in Switzerland. They are all between 75 and 90 years old and tell of their full life full of design and planning. Melancholy, happy or angry, they look back on their lives; the architects and designers, landscape architects, engineers and planners from Switzerland. The result is a book with 40 portraits of a generation that, with a great desire for the future and the belief in a better world, has not only built houses or landscapes, bridges or tractors, but has also transformed our society.

In the book, there is always a black and white picture of the usually already white-haired and wrinkled person behind the voice, photographed by Urs Walder with his Hasselblad. This book is a collection of 40 articles called “Rückspiegel” from the Hochparterre issues of the last five years. The people portrayed come from the fields of architecture or design, civil engineering, landscape architecture or spatial planning; they are housing experts, landscape conservationists or architectural historians. The juxtaposition of the individual contributions makes a larger whole: the panorama of a generation that has shaped Switzerland – and far beyond.

A generation of pioneers

The photos show them in their present living environment: at home, in the living room, in front of the books, in the garden. In their narratives, some analyse their entire oeuvre, while others focus on a life theme, sometimes on the passage of time, sometimes on everyday life. It is about childhood, education or university professorship. Or about cars: with the pregnant woman in the Fiat Topolino to Lausanne, in the boss’ Citroën ID to Ronchamp. It is a generation of pioneers. They won the first church competition after the Second World War or converted the first industrial wasteland. They drew the first structure plan or established garden monument conservation and landscape planning in a country that took a little longer for some things. Roughly a third of the people portrayed are women – this is not representative of the generation represented here, because back then men dominated the professional world even more than today, and the creative world as well. We learn this too, for example from the first central president of the Federation of Swiss Architects.

The book collects portrait photos and oral history

The 176-page book “Im Rückspiegel. Designers tell their lives” (in German) shows forty portraits of a generation that has shaped Switzerland. Urs Walder took the 40 photos. The book was designed by the graphic designer Sara Sidler, Axel Simon is publishing it. The portraits include Rosmarie Baltensweiler, Susi Berger, Bärbel Birkelbach, Werner Blaser, Hermann Blumer, Jacques Blumer, Justus Dahinden, Christa de Carouge, Carl Fingerhuth, Benno & Jacqueline Fosco-Oppenheim, Leonhard Fünfschilling, Otti Gmür, Silvia Gmür, Esther & Rudolf Guyer, Susanne Gysi, Kristiana Hartmann, Trix & Robert Haussmann, Alexander Henz, Benedikt Huber, Uli Huber, Verena Huber, Lora Lamm, Rodolphe Luscher, Christian Menn, Rudolf Mettler-Stüssi, Robert Obrist, Arthur Rüegg, Claude Schelling, Jakob Schilling, Ursula Schmocker-Willi, Beate Schnitter, Peter Steiger, Christian Stern, Peter Stöckli, Bryan Cyril Thurston, Ludwig Walser, Hans Weiss, Werner Zemp, Ruedi Zwissler.

You can order the book “Im Rückspiegel” here directly from Edition Hochparterre at the price of CHF 39.00.