This post was written by Andrea Paoletti
Freitag Freeway Shop | Zurich | Switzerland
It’s impressive to see just how much the Freitag concept runs along all the process from their products to their buildings.
Back in 1993, graphic designer brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag were on the lookout for a messenger bag. Zurich citizens worthy of the name travel by bicycle. When it rains, they get wet. The Freitag brothers wanted a heavy-duty, functional and water-repellent bag to carry their designs. Inspired by the cheerfully coloured lorries rumbling along the cross-Zurich highway just in front of their flat, they cut a messenger bag out of an old truck tarpaulin. As the carry belt, they used second-hand car seat-belt webbing, while an old bicycle inner tube provided the edging.
The genius of the idea was that the bags were utilitarian (and environmentally correct) yet individual at the same time.
Developing the same idea in 2006 they decided to sell bags-made-from-tarps in a shop-made-from-containers. Their flagship store in Zurich is an asymmetric tower (26 meters high) designed by Spillmann Echsle Architects. Completely built from 17 rusty, recycled freight-containers (used Type 20/8/86 ISO1CC Type Steel Dry Containers), selected in person in Hamburg and brought to Zurich by rail. Stacked low enough not to violate the city’s restriction on high-rise, high enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. The way the elements are stacked is authentic, and only connecting elements from the shipping industry are used. This also means that dismantling the tower and leaving the site in its original state will be a straightforward process. Freitag’s decision to locate its flagship store there enriches the area, adding a new, high profile building which is used by members of the public during the day.
The base (4×2 containers) is used as a sales outlet, while the tower has become a striking landmark between two main international transportation routes. The bottom four floors house the actual store with displays and merchandise, extending reuse and recycling from their product line into their retail spaces. The other floors contain areas for storage and a staircase that take shoppers up to the viewing platform, where there is even a pair of binoculars.
This is a fantastic example of a company walking the walk as much they talk the talk: from product to building to product, a complete circle.
all pictures are © filippo podestà