Xenophobe's® Guides: Swiss obsessions
The Swiss obsession with high quality means that the country is in a constant state of refurbishment.
Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.
The Swiss long ago abandoned hope of making anything cheap and instead found a niche at the other end of the market. Of course, expensive things will only sell if they are of the highest quality, and Switzerland has become synonymous with quality, as well as obsessed. Swiss houses cannot make do with modern plastic gutters like the rest of the world, which are instead constructed from best-quality copper and, like most things the Swiss make, are built like a tank and designed to last a thousand years.
Concrete, preferably reinforced and a couple of feet thick, is one of Switzerland’s favourite building materials. From churches to garden walls and mountain tunnels to autobahn flyovers, concrete is used with such alacrity one can only assume that the Swiss find it attractive.
All Swiss towns and villages are in a constant state of renovation. Cranes dominate the skyline, as building after building is refurbished. The buildings’ insides are ripped out until only the shell is left. New roofs, floors, triple glazing, air conditioning, glass-fibre cabling and wall-to-wall luxury are installed. It is a never-ending process. Once one building is completed workers move on to the next. After 20 years the process begins all over again.
In lesser lands, a bus stop is a pole in the ground with a sign on top. In Switzerland bus stops are million-franc affairs which include a mains electricity supply for computerised ticket machines. The pavement in the vicinity has to be resurfaced as does the road with a special material that will not retain rainwater and thus subject waiting passengers to spray from passing vehicles. Naturally the signs require more than something as simple as the words ‘Bus Stop’ and each stop is labelled with its own name. After plenty of concrete has been poured, a seat is finally installed, plus a regulation litter bin for discarded tickets (but definitely not for household rubbish).
For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss.
Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the Swiss by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.
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