With all diversity that characterizes the neighbourhood, there is one aspect that makes the building lot very special, if not unique: The site for the new multifamily housing project is located exactly at the spot where the two paradigmatic typologies meet: the perimeter block typology and the fully detached build- ing typology. This encounter of two urban models does not only take place on the scale of the immediate surrounding. In fact, looking north from the building site towards the city center, the perimeter block is the dominant, if not overwhelming typology, whereas looking south, we only find semi and fully-detached buildings.While the perimeter block stands for urbanity, detached buildings stand for the suburban. While the perimeter block represents a uniform urban typology but a heterogeneity in its use and inhabitants, the detached building typology stands for a varied building form, but a homogeneity in use and inhabitants. Hence, the building site is precisely the location within Cologne, where urbanity turns into sub-urbanity, and where an urban heterogeneity of program turns into homogeneity. Located at an intersection, the site lies with its one side within the area of the perimeter block typology, and with its other side in the area of the detached building typology. The building becomes an architectural response to this transition.
Along the ‘urban’ street, the building moves very close to the sidewalk, even slightly protruding over it.Around the corner, where the intersecting street leads into the suburban area, the building steps back from the street, resulting in a band of front yards. In addition, the con- crete elements that mark the façade of the building widens, and opens up, to create a system of balconies and terraces, thereby creating an interstitial layer be- tween the building and the street.
On the street intersection itself, the building volume curves around, urbanistically emphasizing this corner condition. In the interior, the volume features an identical curvilinear shape.The absence of an interior corner helps to distance the different apartments from each other, creating a quality of intimacy and privacy for the domestic spaces.
The building itself is constructed as a concrete system, where the material becomes the structural, formal and organizational element. Pre- cast elements give a rhythm and specificity to the facades.Where as these meandering protrusions are kept small towards the north, creating only very small shadows, they widen and open up along the other facades, becoming a series of balconies and terraces, and thereby also shading the internal spaces.Throughout the day, the concrete elements create a constantly shifting play of light and shadow along the surfaces of the building, underscoring its sculptural qualities. All windows are made of wood, treated in a translucent varnish. The warm, auburn colored frames form a perfect combination with the concrete of the façades. All balustrades feature a system of rotating aluminum fins. According to the inclination of the inhabitants and their uses of the balconies, the fins can be rotated to appear as open as possible, turned to a closed orientation, to allow for a maximum intimacy, or rotated in such a way to allow light to enter from a de- sired direction. Over time, each apartment will show different levels of openness or intimacy and the building itself will transform ac- cording to the routines of its inhabitants.This rotating and transforming quality of the balustrades also mirrors the twisting of the con- crete elements, and translates this meandering quality into a different scale and materiality.
We tried to achieve a diversity of potential residents through the design of the apartments. In fact, the apartments are as different to each other as possible, with almost no layout repeating throughout the building. From duplex apartments for families, to medium to large size flats on single floors, to small studios for singles or couples, and an additional bungalow-like town house in the back of the site, the building offers a wide range of residential typologies for a diverse range of res- idents.This diversity aims to underscore the urban and very heterogenous character of the neighbourhood of Bayenthal.