Picture a pristine meadow somewhere in the suburbs of a Swiss town. In the distance, you can make out the snow capped alps. And nearby, there might be a forest or a lake.
But something is off in this idyllic picture: out of nowhere, several dozen aluminum poles reach to the skies. These poles are messengers from the future, visualizing the shape and volume of an upcoming construction.
Building poles are a common sight across Switzerland.
The Swiss building code requires any new building or major addition to an existing building to be outlined. For a certain period before construction begins, these "ghost buildings", as the Guardian has aptly called them, help residents to envision how the landscape will be affected.
From new single family homes to factory warehouses or additions to existing homes, all of these building projects need to be properly outlined.
From my own experience, I know that neighbors will take the time to go on the site of a newly staked out building. By looking at the outline of the new construction, preferably during different times of the day, they can imagine the effect this building will have on their own quality of life.
The building poles help to imagine the impact on the overall picture of a town, on the sun exposure or on the proximity to nearby buildings.
And with Switzerland being a direct democracy, every resident has the right to veto new construction projects if they deem to interfere or disregard the building code. Hence, these abstract "Baugespann" marker frames are a common sight all over Switzerland.
Here are a few examples of Swiss building poles we have captured throughout the years: