Barents Lessons wins Most Beautiful Swiss Books Award

© 2013 laba - EPFL

© 2013 laba - EPFL

laba's recent publication "Barents Lessons" was selected as one of the most beautiful Swiss books in 2012, among 19 other winners. The competition is hosted every year by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK).

More than 400 books were submitted to the Most Beautiful Swiss Books competition in 2012. Of those 400 books, 19 received the award. Among them, Barents Lessons, a book that gives insight into an architectural research project at laba (Laboratory Basel), a satellite architectural studio in Basel, Switzerland, affiliated to the Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL). The most beautiful Swiss books will be presented at the Helmhaus Zurich from June 27-30, 2013.

The project presented in Barents Lessons focused on the remote and geographically extreme, yet resource-rich and therefore geo-strategically crucial Barents Sea region, located in the Arctic Ocean, north of Norway and Russia. Starting with the thesis that the ocean is an urbanised territory, the participants carried out a one-year investigation, moving from the territorial to the architectural scale over two terms.

The task was to analyse the region from a distance, aligning the critical issues in the Barents Sea with a global picture, and to carry out in-depth local field-work. As a synthesis of the knowledge and experience gained, concrete architectural projects for different kinds of infrastructure (residential, educational, ecological, transport, cultural) were designed.

Barents Lessons presents the entire project in three parts, reflecting the methodology applied. The book is illustrated throughout with numerous graphics and maps especially developed for the publication, with colour photographs and plans.

The publication was created in close collaboration with Ludovic Balland. The Ludovic Balland Typography Cabinet is a graphic design studio in Basel, established in 2004. 


H. Gugger, N. Couling and A. Blanchard (Eds.). Barents Lessons: Teaching and Research in Architecture. EPFL, Lausanne, Park Books, Zurich, 978-3-906027-17-3, lapa/laba Lessons 5.

Detailed record:
Barents Lessons can be purchased at
Barents Lessons was also shortlisted for the DAM Architectural Book Award 2012.

Author: laba - Laboratoire Basel