A boat

The Monolith

The Monolith as integral part of the thematic presentation – alongside other more unassuming works, has become one of the most significant images of the Expo.02. The sudden presence of this geometric form, which appears so completely foreign in its surroundings, creates a new landscape. Yet it fits in with the landscape and like the landscape, it remains the same yet changes continually. Its rusty metal façade evokes images of industry, of harbors and wrecks. The massive cube, however, also harks back to the black stone of Mecca or Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey”. This solitary object in the water also recalls memories of Arnold Böcklin’s painting “The Island of the Dead”.

If you approach the gigantic, seemingly inaccessible form on board the quietly gliding solar boat, you gain some notion of the technical mastery of the construction: a colossus, whose sides measure 34 meters in length, “floats” on a platform made of a hundred prefabricated hollow concrete components, and is anchored to the bottom of the lake with steel cables. Logically but paradoxically, a shipping permit was required for ist construction and operation.

After slowly circling the cube, the boat trip ends in front of the narrow entrance passage, which opens out into the spacious ground floor hall. The only light in this hall is created by the projection of the multi-media Swiss Panorama version 2.1. onto a translucent screen. On the upper levels, visitors can enjoy a magnificent view over the lake oft Morat and the historical Panorama of the Battle of Morat is displayed. Everything about this building reveals that the theme is time: by deconstructing points of reference. The Monolith is not merely a mighty presence in the landscape or a series of architectural sequences, thanks to its mysterious aura, it is a complete piece of art. 

Text from Architecture.Expo.02


The Monolith in numbers
Length x width: 34.00 m x 34.00
Height above water level: 34.00 m
Interior volume: 38'000 m3
Floor area: 1'150 m2
Weight of the monolith at full load: 3'900 t
Weight of floating platform: 2'800 t
Weight of superstructure: 1'100 t
Weight of metal structure: 460 t
Number of concrete pontoons: 100
Weight of a concrete pontoon: between 25 and 31 t
Wall thickness of the concrete pontoons: between 16 and 20 cm
Total length of the prestressing cables of the platform: 2'700 m
Total length of anchoring cables and chains: 3'300 m
Water depth under the monolith: between 12.00 and 14.00 m
Access: solar boat - capacity 60 people

AJN Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris, France www,jeannouvel.com
Partner: GIMM Gauer Itten Messerli Maria (New: Gauer Itten Messerli Architekten AG), Berne www.gim.ch

Emch+Berger AG, Berne www.emchberger.ch 

General contractor (construction from platform)
Nüssli Special Events AG, Hüttwilen www.nussli.com

Main contractor
Joint venture Tuchschmid AG (deleted), Frauenfeld and
Jakem AG (deleted), Münchwilen
Marti AG, Moosseedorf  www.martiag.ch

Model tests in the laboratory
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, Laboratoire de construction hydraulique, Lausanne www.epfl.ch

Numerical simulation of the platform
University of Liège, Departement ANAST, Liège, Belgium www.anast.ulg.ac.be  

Laboratory tests of mortar joints
Haute école d’ingénierie et d’architecture Fribourg, Fribourg www.heia-fr.ch

Expert opinion and inspection
Van Oossanen & Associates bv (New: Van Oossanen Naval Architects), Wagemingen, The Nederlands www.oossanen.nl

Sieber Cassina + Partner AG, Berne www.scpag.ch

Prefabricated concrete pontoons
Element AG, Tafers www.element.ch  

Prestressing and anchoring cables
AVT AG, Tafers

Mortar joints
ULO Offshore Ltd, Bremgarten www.ulosystems.com

Rostra AG, Utzenstorf

Diving work
TSM-Perrottet AG (New: Hydrokarst Swiss SA), Sugiez www.hydrokarstswiss.com

Photos: © Nüssli (Schweiz) AG, Hüttwilen www.nussli.com; VBS-DDPS Brigitte Feldmann; © Urs Berwert; © Jürg Frei; © Martin Lüchinger; © Archive Frédérique Mouchet; © Andreas Mosimann; © Christoph Steudler; © Philipp Zanatta; © Kurt Zwahlen