The Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue opened officially on 15 November 2000. This brought to fruition a project that began in 1995 when twelve architects were invited to tender proposals for the project. The winning entry was submitted by the Zurich-based firm of Marcel Meili & Markus Peter. Construction began in 1997 and took three years to complete. Vogt Landscape Architects, also from Zurich, was responsible for the landscape design.
The Centre is built on the grounds of the former Villa Bodmer, the country house of the Swiss industrialist, Carl Martin Leonhard Bodmer, owner of a silk factory, and his wife Anna Vogel. Built in the late 1920s, it is in the neo-Baroque style of an 18th century Bernese country manor house. It faces to the south and has sweeping views of Lake Zurich and the Glarus Alps. The original architects of the villa were Richard von Sinner and Hans Beyeler.
Prior to Swiss Re’s purchase of the property, it was the site of the International Baptist Theological Seminary. The Baptists bought the property in 1949 and hired the architect, Hans von Meyenburg, to make alterations to the site. These included a library and the director’s house. The former seminary chapel, built in 1959, is the present home of the International Baptist Church of Zurich.
As the Villa is a listed building, little was done to change its exterior appearance. An avenue of lime trees still leads downhill from the main road to the Villa. The current Dining Room replaces a wing built in the 1950s. The Centre’s kitchen, wine cellar and other facilities are housed beneath the Villa and the Dining Room. Its current furnishings were designed by Günther Förg, prominent German painter, graphic designer, sculptor, and photographer.
Adjacent to the road is the Garden House, a former estate building, which has kept its external design and houses office space. It also contains the Lodge Bar, designed by Hermann Czech; an ideal place for a night cap.
The main conference building, the Pavilion, located just off of Gheistrasse, was newly constructed for the site and houses both the Centre’s hotel and conference facilities. The interior design of the Pavilion is the work of Adolf Krischanitz and Hermann Czech of Vienna. Gilbert Bretterbauer, a Viennese textile designer, was responsible for the original curtains and carpets. The Forum, which can seat 300 people, is housed in this complex. Downstairs are the library, a small spa and sauna area, the fitness room and a covered Arcade connecting the Pavilion with the Villa. On the top two floors are 50 hotel rooms reserved for visitors to the Centre.
The Tea House is another modern addition to the site, a garden pavilion with a large patio hidden behind trees and bushes in the southeast corner of the Park, offering unobstructed views of Lake Zurich and the Alps.
Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
Tel: +41 43 285 8100
Fax: +41 43 285 8101