Schwing! Now I know where my Allianz insurance premium went this year: a shiny new headquarters in Zürich with shiny new aluminium coated curtains. The building – a 20-storey tower and a five-storey annexe linked by four bridges – was designed by Wiel Arets Architects and is kitted out with blinds which are contained in a closed cavity between the windows and the interior. The “crumpled” steel sheets are centrally controlled to regulate the internal temperature using a computer algorithm.
Another eye-catching feature of the building’s windows is the abstract pattern of onyx marble that surrounds them, taken from Mies Van Der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona pavilion. This is in response to a planning directive imposed on the district which mandates that all new building façades must be composed of natural stone. The project has been labelled a hybrid office, with different neighbourhood areas within the building as a whole. If you have to get into the insurance business, this is the place to come and work; the annexe has several roof terraces for employees, each with its own Japanese maple tree.