Löwenbräu - an exciting brew of contemporary art

more than a year ago

With a dozen art institutions all under one roof, you shouldn’t miss the Löwenbräuareal if you’re into contemporary art. Beer was brewed here for nearly a century under the name Löwenbräu, i.e. lion’s brew, until the brewery was shut down in 1986. Then parts of the art scene found a home here and since the 1990s Löwenbräu has been synonymous with art in Zurich.

The handsome industrial-era red-brick brewery built in 1897 was used as a base by young artists who stirred up Zurich’s art scene when this part of town still had a distinctly industrial and dingy feel. The young and wild were soon joined by more conventional galleries. Then, two big names from Zurich’s architecture scene were commissioned to redevelop the site: Anette Gigon and Mike Guyer who are best-known for the Prime Tower near Hardbrücke station.

Gigon and Guyer added three rectangular blocks in steel and glass to the complex, one in white, one in black and one in red, with the central, asymmetric black tower protruding out over the original buildings in a daring cantilevered construction. Reactions in Zurich were mixed, both to the architecture and to the luxury apartments included in the new buildings, some with multi-million franc price tags.

Now, after three years of construction work, the galleries and museums have moved in again and have much more space than before. Particularly for the museums that means they can show pieces which otherwise might never see the light of day. So while some of the spark of the Löwenbräuareal’s wild years may be lost, the sheer range of exhibitions makes it an absolute must.


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