Lonely Planet Writer

A new art installation has appeared in the middle of Zurich's train station

If you’re planning on passing through Zurich Central Station these days, you might want to stop and take a moment to relax inside the new crocheted tree installation in the middle of it.

The GaiaMotherTree at Zurich station. Photo by Mark Niedermann/Foundation Beyeler

The GaiaMotherTree was designed by Brazilian conceptual artist Ernesto Neto in collaboration with Foundation Beyeler, based in the city of Riehen in the Basel-Stadt canton of Switzerland, and it’s a truly immersive piece that will impact all of your five senses. The 20-meter-high structure is made entirely of orange and green hand-knotted and finger-crocheted strands of cotton which create the shape of a tree – with branches looping around the station’s ceiling beams and the roots creating an alcove for travelers to walk in. The branches are also weighted with bags containing spices, mainly turmeric, cloves, cumin and black pepper, which contribute to the immersive experience by engaging the visitors’ sense of smell.

The spices hanging from the tree’s branches are mainly turmeric, cloves, cumin and black pepper. Photo by Mark Niedermann/Foundation Beyeler

According to Neto, the GaiaMotherTree is a work that is completely about intimacy, a subject that he’s always been very focused on with his art together with spirituality, humanism, and ecology. He was inspired by the Huni Kuin, an indigenous Amazonian community living on the border between Brazil and Peru. Neto has been spending time with them and has absorbed their culture, customs, craft skills and spiritual connection with nature in his artistic work.

All of Ernesto Neto’s works are installations that engage viewers on multiple senses. Photo by Mark Niedermann/Foundation Beyeler

The piece took a team of 27 people and several weeks to be completed, and Zurich is planning events, workshops, and meetings that will take place in it to truly take advantage of its presence in the station.

Every part of the GaiamOtherTree was hand-made. Photo by Mark Niedermann/Foundation Beyeler

You can read more about Ernesto Neto’s work and the Foundation Beyeler here.