Swiss water treatment plant in forest designed “like a tight dress”

An unusual water purification plant commissioned by the Swiss City of Muttenz as both an architectural landmark and a public education facility has just been completed.

Designed by Oppenheim Architecture, the building melds the natural and industrial worlds by blending into its protected forest setting near the Rhine River.

A rough facade of sprayed concrete is intended to attract a covering of moss and small plants over time.

The building’s external form, meanwhile, is meant to express the technical processes going on inside.

"Like a tight dress, the skin presses against it and represents the technical inner life to the outside. Pipelines, filters, and apparatuses can be read through the façade abstractly.

"The result is an expressive building, acting as an ‘objet trouvé’ in its natural context and reduced to its materiality and form," said Oppenheim Architecture.

An exhibition area explains the advanced, 3-phased purification process to the citizens of Muttenz, emphasising the importance of clean drinking water.

Said Oppenheim Architecture: "This alcove-like room is pure, open to the outside and sits on a pool of water – reflecting the daylight and collecting the rainwater pouring in from the roof. Depending on the time and season, the space can be moist, cold and mystical. Water is experienced throughout all senses."

All images courtesy of Börje Müller

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