Monumental Monographs in Architecture
What does one expect of a book that shows hundreds of photographs of a town in the Canton of Zürich? Cross my heart! It is not likely to be a knockout. Zürich graphic artist Bruno Margreth proves otherwise in his publication Wädenswil 001-555. He deliberately toys with a certain official decorum by placing Wädenswil's red and yellow coat of arms on the cover, in the middle, on a blue ground. But the numbers in the title belie that impression. Open the cover and inside you will find 555 photographs of a town on the left shore of Lake Zürich, wordlessly arrayed like a kind of collective memory. The text is entirely separate. This unusual division piques the reader's curiosity by subverting the convention of adding a caption to each picture. This is characteristic of Margreth's conceptual approach. Trained in typographic design in Bern, he has been teaching at the Zürich University of the Fine Arts for several years. The monograph on architect Valerio Olgiati demonstrates Margreth's skill in bringing architecture to life in book form. The thick, object-like book is striking in several respects; just picking it up requires physical strength. The conspicuously flawless white slipcase, the use of one single type of paper, the 'naked' spine bearing the beautiful embellishment of the collating marks: the book is like a built object, impressively architectural in its design. Even without being familiar with the work of Olgiati, an architect from the Grisons, and without having read any of the texts, the book clearly communicates the character of his buildings. For a volume of essays by Elisabeth Bronfen, a professor of English and American studies, Margreth decided to print all of the illustrations in black-and-white, thereby subordinating them to the text and emphasizing the book as a work tool. The cover flap can be used as a bookmark. Despite its substantial 536 pages, the book is neither unwieldy nor too heavy.