Until 2020 what was, in fact, the first work by Fischer Architekten stood on Letzigraben in Zurich Albisrieden: a factory and adjoining pair of dwelling houses that Wilhelm Fischer designed for SIM AG in 1929. While making references to representatives of the “Neues Bauen” movement, the building avoids any clear commitment to modernism. As a whole the design is convincing thanks to the reduced formal language and the practical layout of spaces.
Excerpt from the yearbook 2009 (Roman Hollenstein):
“When Wilhelm Fischer opened his own architecture practice in Zurich in 1929, he can have had no idea that he was founding what today, alongside Burckhardt Partner in Basel and Itten & Brechbühl in Bern, is the oldest architecture firm in Switzerland. His first work, the factory and residential building for SIM AG at no. 120 Letzigraben, which represented a pragmatic response to the discussions about modernism at the time, was too modest to allow such speculation.
Clearly Wilhelm Fischer did not see himself as a member of the avant-garde. He was too far removed from the intellectual debates and disputes of the time. However, he certainly recognised the practical ways in which the ‘Neues Bauen’ could be used. In the small, six-bay factory for SIM AG he made use of modern elements such as the flat roof, the undecorated plaster facade and the large windows divided up by steel glazing bars. In contrast, he formulated the pair of houses belonging to the factory – like in his design for the office of Rittmeyer & Furrer – as a simple building in which the upright rectangular window to the staircase makes a cautious reference to modernism, while the decoration of the door frame and the window grilles recall Art déco, and the shallow pitched hipped roof, the narrow roof projection, and the folding shutters evoke purified traditional houses.”