Jan Zachmann

Postgraduate Shortlisted

Fish and Ships

Rising from the limpid depths of Lake Zurich, Jan Zachmann’s restaurant beckons to potential diners on the shore

Jan Zachmann’s project stands in shallow water a short distance from the shore of Lake Zurich, at a point where the remains of prehistoric lake dwellings have been found. Taking the form of a water-bound restaurant accessible only by boat, it suggests itself as a re-imagining of one such structure. Constructed in timber, it is essentially no more than a single large room elevated above a pier where diners can arrive either by ferry or personal taxi service. And yet for all its modesty, this richly imagined proposal describes a place of unique and strong character.

The project draws on prehistoric precedents that formerly inhabited this part of the lake

The timber skeleton creates a lofty and church-like volume

Likening his building’s presence within the lake to that of a folly in a park Zachmann has invested it with a height and monumentality that allows it to register over long distances. However, on closer encounter the project also reveals a considerable tectonic delicacy. Its structure comprises an exoskeleton of splayed timber posts infilled with adjustable timber panels at the restaurant’s lower level and by clerestory glazing screened by a close array of timber fins above.

The restaurant off the shore of lake Zurich is an imposing timber structure

Diners can lift the side panels to open tangential views down to the water but the only long vistas – one to the city and the other to the mountains – are framed at the room’s two ends. The restaurant’s sense of containment, as well as its height and axiality all contribute to a rather ecclesiastical character. If there is an altar it is the open kitchen and bar, which divides the room into a dining area and a smaller cafeteria.

This is a project that could have remained at the level of atmospheric fantasy but as illustrated in Zachmann’s refined timber models and construction drawings, Fish & Ships has attained a level of plausibility without losing any of the poetry of its original premise.

Cross section

Ground floor plan (water level)

First floor plan (restaurant level)

Judge’s comment

Alexandra Stara

A thoughtful and sophisticated project, understanding precedent as possibility rather than indulging in simplistic flights of fancy, it presents a rather small but tectonically accomplished and beautifully resolved building. Excellent drawings, photographs and models compose a convincing picture. This is one of the very few projects submitted this year that I could easily imagine being in, and actually wanted to!