Westside Shopping and Leisure Centre in Bern, Switzerland opened this week attracting a staggering 67,000 visitors on its first day, more than 50,000 more than were expected. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect has received criticism for the scheme throughout the architecture community with one commentator stating on the project: “I wonder how (architects) can still being designed projects like this, capital, energy and materials wasteful, while, slowly but steadily, architecture turns "green" in almost all developed world...”
The site consists of 141, 500 sq m of built area of which only 23,500 sq m are shops. The rest of the development incorporates the largest water park in Switzerland, a fitness centre and multiplex cinema, as well as a hotel and senior residency.
Despite the criticism from the architecture community the centre’s popularity with the locals was evident with people waiting for 6 hours to use the BernAqua Adventure pool because of queues.
Libeskind’s concept was to create a public living space offering both day and night facilities, a self-enclosed district with endless amenities and services, almost like a city within a city. “I think the 21st century will create a completely new architecture for everyday life,” Libeskind said in a press conference prior to the opening, “We are used to that division between culture and commerce, but I think in the 21st century this division will be completely blurred, because what we’ve done here is to introduce a culture dimension to an everyday activity.”