Center for Sports and Sport Science ZSSw
The comparison between the modern triple gymnasium of 1981 and the two older buildings of 1946 marks two stages in the progression of sport from the idea of physical exercise in the fresh air and a healthy environment to a mass phenomenon. The large expanse of the Hochfeld on which the national exhibition was held in 1914 remained the preserve of family gardens and sun-seekers until well into the twentieth century. The Neufeld Stadium, tennis club and student body settled in its northern corner in the 1930s and 1940s; five years later, the canton took over the site from the latter and started building.
The gymnasium made of Durisol planks and an initial single-story construction were erected in 1946, the latter of which was expanded in several stages by 1957 to become the building we know today. The unimposing buildings point towards the close link between modern architecture and sport: Body care and hygiene were new and pressing issues particularly in the 1930s. The choice of Scandinavian motifs adding a fresh and appealing appearance to the simple wooden construction is a characteristic feature. The construction year one year after the end of the war above all clearly underlines the importance that was attached to the training of sports teachers with a view to national defense.
Architect Hans Beyeler was an elite athlete himself and as a partner of Sinner & Beyeler had a wealth of experience with sports buildings. The extensive list of his works includes the neighboring Neufeld tennis clubhouse and the KA-WE-DE built in 1933, the Maulbeer indoor swimming pool of 1939 and last but not least the old St. Jakob Stadium in Basel built in 1935.
With the new triple gymnasium designed by architects Friedli & Sulzer, a purpose-built construction was erected in 1982 that picks up the threefold division of the gymnasium as the decisive expressive element and vividly projects this onto the north-facing facade. The building does not make any excessive artistic claims but is primarily intended to be a reliable functional piece of architecture. Two metal sculptures by Willy Weber that were also completed in 1982 have a much-noticed presence here by serving on the rear side of the complex towards Neufeld highway entrance as a familiar symbol of arriving in the city for many Bernese citizens and guests.