The house in Binningen, located in a suburb of Basel is a five unit apartment building. It responds to what we felt was an intrusion of a big building into a quaint neighbourhood of single family houses. The essentially rectangular volume has its main façade facing the street while on its western elevation folds inward in order to create a garden space.
The problem for us was to give a squat two-floor building a collective expression. We introduced a composite two-storey window motif in which, in the manner of Michelangelo, a smaller window is suspended from an emphatically framed main window. This unifies the two storeys and lifts the building’s centre of gravity. Elements made of folded metal conceal the louvers and visually unify two windows into a single architectural motif. This motif structures the elevations, establishing symmetry on the street façade and a loose rhythm on the garden facades.
The monochromatic relief of render planes and folded metal give the building an origami like volumetric presence. In the end the building resembles a model that is composed of a series of planar surfaces.
The house has an irregular plan concealed behind precisely articulated facades. The façade of the building provides order to the exterior spaces and the interior spaces. When designing the facade, we discovered that it is increasingly difficult to create a seamless unity between the façade and the structure of the interior spaces. The relationship between the building as an urban figure and the apartment plans has become loose.
The main living spaces are arranged around a pillar clad in black marble. This pillar is the centre of gravity of the apartment. It connects the living room, the loggia and the winter into one spatial figure. Opaque and glazed elements and doors create a balance between spatial totality and a layering of spatial depth.