When I saw this house, my first thought was: “I’m glad I don’t have to pay their heating bills.”
Perhaps that is why the “Private Museum” in the Heidi Weber House was only open during the summer months, if at all, because it would have been too expensive to heat.
The house is located at Höschgasse 8, near the eastern shore of Lake Zürich. It was built starting in 1964 on a plot of land belonging to the City of Zürich, on the basis of a fifty-year leasehold. At the end of the fifty years, in 2014, the land and building reverted to the city, as stipulated in the original leasehold, but not without a series of bitter legal disputes that continued until at least 2021 and were not always understandable to outsiders.
The original contents of the building, including furniture and lighting designed by Le Corbusier and numerous sketches, photos and documents, remained the property of Heidi Weber (*1927), and she had them all removed in 2016.
From 2017 to 2019, extensive renovation works were carried out, and the house reopened in 2019 under the auspices of the Museum für Gestaltung (Museum of Design). But it is still only open during the summer months, because it would presumably still be too expensive to heat during the winter.
Le Corbusier, whose real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, was born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in 1887. He later lived in France, and became a French citizen in 1930. He was famous during his lifetime as an architect, designer, urban planner, writer and painter. His work at the time must have seemed ultra-modern, futuristic, even progressive, since he claimed to be interested in improving the living conditions of the poor.
City planning to Le Corbusier consisted of tearing down historic city districts to make room for huge skyscrapers intertwined with huge freeways so the automobile could be the main form of transportation. In the second half of the twentieth century, numerous cities throughout the world implemented his ideas, leading to the unlivable urban wastelands and high-rise slums that we all know today.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t mind having a look at the Pavillion Le Corbusier, so the next time I’m in Zürich during the warmer months I’ll ride by on my bicycle and see if it’s open. (If not, I’d at least like to visit the atelier of the sculptor Hermann Haller, which is next door and is scheduled to reopen in 2025.)
My photos in this post are from 2010. I revised the text in 2023.