Swissness Applied

Learning from New Glarus

New Glarus, Wisconsin: a prime example of cultural heritage in diaspora and of imagery and appropriation in architecture



Edited by Nicole McIntosh and Jonathan Louie

1st edition

, 2021

Text in English


272 pages, 250 color and 30 b/w illustrations

23 x 30 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-244-6


Founded by Swiss settlers in 1845, New Glarus in Wisconsin evolved from being a dairy farming and cheese production village to a popular tourist destination. Following a grave economic downturn in the 1960s and 1970s, the community discovered embracing the image of its cultural heritage, particularly traditional architectural details, as a way of survival. Consequently, they began to change their commercial building façades to appear even more Swiss. Since 1999, the town has even regulated the production of new buildings via its building codes to preserve this particular aesthetic evoking the familiar traditional Swiss chalet style.

Swissness Applied investigates the transformation of European immigrant towns in the United States, exemplified by New Glarus. It features the results of extensive fieldwork on buildings in the village as well as design projections based on the local building code and evaluates the outcomes through different representation techniques. Expert authors including Courntey Coffman, Kurt Forster, Whitney Moon, Philip Ursprung, and Jesús Vassallo contribute essays that pick up on aspects such as the role of cultural imagery and immigration history in architecture, and on Swissness as a cultural concept in particular.


Contributions by Courtney Coffman, Kurt Forster, Jonathan Louie, Nicole McIntosh, Whitney Moon, Philip Ursprung, Jesús Vassallo. With a conversation with Patrick Lambertz and a preface by Marc Angélil and Cary Siress.


Nicole McIntosh and Jonathan Louie are the cofounders of the Swiss-American-based firm Architecture Office. They are curators and designers of the exhibition Swissness Applied that was on display at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2019), Kunsthaus Glarus (2019), and Yale Architecture Gallery in (2020), with further stations planned.

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Street view of Hawk’s Mill Winehouse, Sportsman’s Bar and Grill, and Glarner Stube © Brian Griffin

Biglers Swiss Tavern © Architecture Office

Elevation of 1st Street, New Glarus © Architecture Office

The Swiss Shoppe, Sectional elevation drawing © Verband Schweizerischer Hafner und Plattengeschäfte, courtesy of the Stuart Gallaher Collection

Chalet Landhaus, Construction Detail IV © Architecture Office

Käserei © Alaina Marra

Emmentaler Haus © Alaina Marra

Kunsthaus Glarus, Güterschuppen © Angelika Annen


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