Day 41/365 of Steel – Freitag Flagship Store

Freitag Flagship Store – Zürich (opened on 19/5/2006)
Day 41/365 on my trip through Believe in Steel Wonderland.

Today I would like to talk about shipping containers, you know: those ugly rectangular boxes they fill up with cheap stuff and send it all over the world with these heavy fuel addicts, called containerships. Well, some people have found a solution to give these ugly bastards a second life which is much more fulfilling and yes, even architecturally interesting.

Freitag Flagship Store – Zürich
Fig 1: Freitag Flagship Store – Zürich
Photo: © Roland Tännler

Freitag’s flagship store is a clever marketing tool which, in line with the company ethos, reuses existing materials. The store consists entirely from used shipping containers en is aptly surrounded by some of the city’s main road and rail routes. The building is formed from 17 standard 6m (20ft) containers that were hand-picked in the port of Hamburg and brought to Zurich by rail. They were stacked in an asymmetrical formation, with a 25m tower of nine containers rising from a four by two container base.

Freitag Flagship Store – Zürich
Fig 2: Freitag Flagship Store – Zürich
Photo: Freitag

A glazed entrance and four large windows cut out of the sides of the vertically stacked spaces allow views in and out of the building. Steel staircases rise up through the structure to an observation platform where there are dramatic views of the city, a lake and the mountains beyond. Initially the building was expected to have a five-to-ten year life span, but it’s still alive and kicking. When the end-of-life is finally reached, the building will leave only a shallow concrete foundation on the site. (source: Building the new Millenium)

There are many more examples of architectural solutions with containers, you can find some of them in a beautiful publication by Sibylle Kramer, called ‘The Box’ (Braun-Publishing). 

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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