Armin Meili - Switzerland
Brown Boveri & Cie Welfare House
Wiesenstrasse, Baden
1952 - 1954


The architectural highlight on the company site of the former Brown Boveri & Cie is the communal building by Armin Meili, which is located to the west above
the factory site. The building is committed to the playful inhibitedness which Moden Architecture brought to the 1950s. This can be seen in different elements,
as in the great staged staircase, in the elevation of the dining hall with the richly ornamented fašade but also in details like the gray-white "swinging" mosaic floor
of the foyer. The main theme of the building is to elevate the main use, emphasizing the exposed position by climbing the generous stairs. In a succesful way
this building manifests the ideology of a leading company and its principle that the worker, too, is of supreme importance, translated into architecture.

The communa building of Brown Boveri & Cie belonged for many years to the construction projects of the company. In August 1952 the construction of
the building could be taken up. The enormous development of the factories and thus also the city of Baden since the war impeded the choice of a suitable building site.
 Since the summer of 1951 pre-projects have been studied in several places. Eventually this led to the election of the steep slope on Martinsbwerg, west of the factories.
However, the foundation conditions were extremely difficult here, but the
building site had also significant advantages. It was very close to the workplaces
and in the middle of the company terrain. Thus, the factory site received a
recreation space whose core was the communal building, facing away from the through traffic .
The communal building contained dining and meeting rooms as well as recreational lounges for over 3000 people. At least 2800 visitors were able to take their
meals in 2 shifts of 45 minutes. For this purpose, the kitchen was divided in two parts, so that the shift operations were kept smoothly going on.

In addition, the communal building contained large recreational workshops (carpenters, locksmiths, painters, photographers, tailor). The educational and entertaining
leisure activity could develop freely. In the great hall were held demonstrations of cinematographic, musical and theatrical nature. Furthermore, a spacious library
with several working opportunities existed. Finally, there were on the lower floors 4 bowling lanes and shower facilities. For these space groups, which were used in
the evening, were planned special entrances.

With the transformation of the BBC to the ABB, the welfare building was converted and since then used by a vocational school. The conversion of the welfare building
 into a modern school building with dense space allocation program caused major interventions. It is a great achievement by the architect Burkhard Meyer,
that nevertheless not only the external appearance and the urban situation of this hybrid monument could be obtained, but also much of its substance and essential traits
of its spatial drama. Whatever possible was preserved important parts were even reconstructed. On the other hand, there where a replacement was inevitable,
the contemporary possibilities were used, and new items are added to a new, albeit compatible language. The result is a building in close proximity to the substance,
which has led to a new whole that benefits a maximum of the existing qualities. There can be felt surprisingly few compromises at the expense of the new use.