In the 17th century wealthy citizens began building summer residences with extensive gardens outside the Zurich city walls, most of which today, however, have been subject to dense development.
Expansive gardens and compact neighbourhoods – these poles characterize the concept for two apartment buildings to be erected in one of the last open gardens. The new buildings recede far from the older ones, and are articulated as light pavilions. In order to create less of an obstruction to the natural slope of the terrain and in order to create wide intermediate spaces, the buildings are positioned obliquely to the hillside on rhombic footprints.
It is not the view of the distant lake but rather the sight of the nearby trees that gives the site its particular charm. For this reason an all-round ribbon window opens all of the living areas out to the garden. At the same time the balustrade and the lintel remove any feelings the residents might otherwise have of living in a display case, giving the rooms stability and the residents protection.
The circumferential fronting towards the garden is correlated internally in a spatial sequence characterised by wide perspectives and divided by a minimum number of elements and walls. On the occasions where these are set close to each other they can be closed by use of concealed sliding doors, allowing the flow of the spatial wholeness to be transformed into private chambers.
The new buildings are located in Zurich, in the Weinegg quarter. They are two apartment buildings with a total of 14 flats, which were designed in the lush garden, below a 17th century country house and its baroque garden.
The client's brief was to design rental flats in the garden to the south-west of the estate, which would blend in well with the surroundings and provide a worthy counterpart to the protected estate and the garden.
The garden was characterised by a large stock of trees and lush vegetation, which concealed the proximity to the surrounding neighbourhood.
The dense stock of trees and lush vegetation form the starting point for the design. The aim was to create buildings that would take into account the existing situation by allowing the garden to retain its character and continue to be experienced as a continuous element. The two volumes, with their hexagonal shape, were placed in such a way that they offer as little resistance to the terrain as possible and are surrounded by the greenery that surrounds them.
The reference to the outside was also decisive for the development of the floor plans. It is not the view of the distant lake, but the view of the nearby trees that makes this place so attractive. Accordingly, the living rooms are opened to the garden by a surrounding ribbon window. A parapet, as well as a lintel, give the rooms support and contribute to the privacy of the residents.
The all-round attention to the garden has its counterpart in a sequence of rooms characterised by wide lines of sight and an enfilade along the façade. An open floor plan creates a flowing space, which is only divided by a few bodies and walls. A further central element is the multiple readability of the cabinets, because only at second glance does it become clear that their doors can simultaneously take on the function of closing off the room. With a short movement of the hand, the flowing space can be transformed into small, private chambers.
In the design of the façade, special attention was paid to lightness and the emphasis on horizontality. The surrounding wooden bands, which are divided into three graduated segments, as well as the ribbon window characterise the expression of the façade. Due to the relatively steeply sloping terrain, the houses stand on a coarsely staked concrete base, the colour of which has been matched to the bands above it, so that the buildings are better placed in the surroundings.
The third, characteristic material of the façade is copper, which forms the end of the building on the top floor and traces the horizontal bands again through filigree window sills and lintels. The weathering of the copper was taken up again by the choice of the colour of the windows.
The green tone of the façade was chosen to articulate the buildings as part of the garden and to integrate them into it. The textile drop-arm awnings are finished in a rusty red to complement the colour of the façade, thus creating a colour accent.
Inside, floor-to-ceiling elements emphasise their physicality and thus strengthen the flowing space around them. By sliding the sliding windows, the perception of the interior and exterior space becomes blurred.
The materialisation was again based on a few but strong materials. The dark red of the carpentry, the walnut cornice and the blue ceramic panels are the dominant elements.