The Aesthetics of the Blurred Image

“If you listen to Beethoven it’s always the same. But if you listen to traffic, it’s always different.”

John Cage

“natural light … no day and no moment is like the other”

Louis Kahn

The design reinterprets the negative connotations of urban infrastructure, turning the sound barrier walls into a catalyst for the imagination – in search of a poetics of infrastructure. The project gathers, projects and reflects the ephemeral imagery of the banal everyday urban landscape in poetic real time, a reporting of the here and now.

The Aesthetic of the Out of Focus.

“Blurriness directs the attention to something new – and often towards oneself. Although it doesn’t only change our mental focus but can transmit surprising information, confirms vague premonitions or unfolds a sensual game.”

Tereza Smid

Swiss law newly requires the construction of sound barrier walls for large traffic arteries passing through residential areas. Where highways already divide and isolate elements within the fabric of the city, sound barrier walls exacerbate the division. Located at the western entrance to the City of Zurich, the kilometer long, 4.5m high wall is the product of a standard, heavy concrete frame designed by the National Highway Authorities. But the City of Zurich chose via a competition to look for innovative solutions to the material within the frame. In this winning entry, etched glass panels of varying degrees gather, abstract, juxtapose and estrange the ephemeral images of daily happenings each side of the wall; blurred imagery of natural and artificial light, traffic, natural features, buildings and people in motion.

Atmosphere of time: constructing the ephemeral …

Reflected light, both natural and artificial, casts and juxtaposes imagery onto the glass panels, continuously telling a sequence of site-specific stories in moment for moment transformation of daily happenings. With each changing point of view and speed of movement new combinations of imagery, color and light, time of day or year emerge. The project gathers, projects and reflects the ephemeral imagery of the banal everyday urban landscape in poetic real time, a reporting of the here and now.

Project Data

Landscape Architecture: Robin Winogrond Landscape Architecture. Urban Design. with Studio Vulkan Landschaftsarchitektur

Location: Berner Strasse Nord, Zürich
Competition: 2013
Design: In Process
Realisation: 2025
Client: City of Zurich, Federal Highway Authorities of Switzerland
Area: 800 m in length
Photography: Samuel Perrriar, Daniela Valentini, Robin Winogrond

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