Xenophobe's® Guides: Swiss obsessions

Xenophobe's® Guides: Swiss obsessions

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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.

Build quality

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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2 Comments To This Article

  • Irina posted:

    on 8th April 2015, 17:12:51 - Reply

    I want to share my experience of renting property in Switzerland and what I have seen there compared to Netherlands- not a lesser hand country I suppose you will agree. The apartment I rented had the most old fashioned electrical system I have seen and I needed to even call an electrician to change the telephone cable in order to get Internet ( which too took me 2 weeks of waiting- speaking of quality, time is obviously not taken into account). The noise isolation is non existing and the kitchen is equipped with electrical appliances that look like 20 years old. And I have seen worse places offered to rent. And I have not touched the lack of any design and taste when putting up new buildings. With all my respect to Swiss quality it is not to seen and experienced everywhere and as everywhere, there are better and worse things existing..
  • Joe posted:

    on 25th February 2015, 15:41:14 - Reply

    Obviously authors of this kind cliches, whether partially right or damned wrong are simply trying to sell a product without a Quality Mark on it .
    When I read in lesser lands, a bus stop is a pole in the ground with a sign on top, then I can only conclude that the floods of Asylum-seekers, economic migrants, illegal stayers etc. [edited by moderator] have come to realise that 'in Switzerland bus stops are million-franc affairs which include a mains electricity supply for computerised ticket machines', and that their journeys by public transport are paid in the form of generous benefits by tolerant 'Swiss taxpayers.'
    If Switzerland has become synonymous with quality, as well as obsessed with it, how can one explain that in every town there are supermarkets flogging low quality merchandise, that there are so many unsavoury kebab, pizza, and burger joints not too speak about so called restaurants who would not even get a fraction of a one star Michelin award.
    The life expectancy of a block of flats or a private house, as architects should know, is up to thirty years and as to central heating, and insulation standards from 5 to 10 years.
    So in order for property owners to run viable and eco-friendly dwelling houses then if one can upgrade fine otherwise start again. And that is another reasons why Switzerland seemingly is in need of so many foreign workers from countries with failed economies and governments.
    As to plastic gutters this is a most unaesthetic and eco-unfriendly product. Stick to copper and stainless steel re-cyclable products.
    So if the Swiss appear to be have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) then about 35 % of Switzerland's population soffers from a serious anxiety-related condition experienced in a regular intrusive and unwelcome obsession for cleanliness, for segregating household rubbish and for building new housing stock to replace old, whenever living values and expectations change.
    I only wish, as a fifth generation Swiss, that the other 65% would also suffer from the same OCD.