In Stans, Switzerland, Zürich-based Bob Gysin Partner (BGP) has completed the new Mettenweg residential building. A place for “people with special care and care needs, regardless of age,” this new edifice replaces the historic Mettenweg home — with its outdated infrastructure, the original home was no longer able to hold a care permit. The building’s faceted construction is designed to integrate the residence with the neighboring buildings and nature, while at the same time defining its own unique presence.
Faceted construction inside and outside
The site in which the Mettenweg residence sits includes a number of structures from different eras, built in a hamlet-like formation. Beyond these, the surrounding nature includes wide fields and mountain vistas.
“The design responds to the surroundings by arranging four rectangular volumes around a central core in such a way that a faceted volume is created,” says BGP. “By rotating the volumes, the building defines the main square, which opens towards the large lime trees [on one side] and the landscaped space [on the other]. The offsets of the volumes create subtle niches in connection with the neighboring buildings.”
More than a care facility, the Mettenweg residential building is conceived as a home. Its 48 rooms are designed to offer a sense of security and cosiness. Residents at Mettenweg will typically stay for long periods and have a limited radius of movement. BGP has emphasized a sense of variety in the design of indoor spaces in addition to those found outdoors: a mix of quiet and lively areas, nooks and meeting points invite residents and staff to utilize the residence in a manner that suits their requirements. “The spatial sequence of the collective rooms offers wide views of the field and mountain landscape,” says the studio.
With rooms arranged around a central core, BGP has opted to create attractive circuits and collective spaces instead of the usual staid corridors familiar to such establishments. Moreover, the visible timber construction and serene interiors bring about a warm and familiar atmosphere. “The timber construction draws on local building traditions and valuable craftsmanship, while the arrangement of the volumes creates attractive curves with spatial focal points,” sats BGP.
Reinterpreting traditional timber construction
The building’s façade and construction “are based on the logic of traditional timber construction with constructive timber protection,” says BGP. The ground floor is made up of in-situ concrete and prefabricated concrete elements which form the base for the timber residence. A post and beam system made from coniferous wood supports the Bresta (horizontal-dowelled system) wood-concrete composite ceiling; the ceiling takes on a static and acoustic role.
“Through the use of a sprinkler system, the load-bearing structure can remain visible in the interior, while the leitmotif of wood extends into the plank formwork of the interior concrete elements,” explains BGP. The meticulous level of craftsmanship is evident throughout the building and pops of blue and green color complement the wood’s natural qualities.
On the exterior, pilaster strips are used to give structure to the façade and create a connection between each of the stories. “The cantilevered sacrificial board on top of the story beam originates from the idea of the interchangeability of building components and can easily be replaced at the end of the life cycle,” says BGP. “The story transom underneath, which protects the façade cladding, remains intact in the long term.” To ensure the wooden façades dry thoroughly after rainfall and snow, rear ventilation expels moisture from the façade formwork. The use of chemical wood preservation on heavily stressed building components is applied in accordance with the principle "as little as possible, as much as necessary,” says the studio.
Art and architecture
An “art-in-building project” titled “Gold” was created by the Swiss artist Lea Achermann. The project’s aim is to focus attention on what already exists rather than add something new. Thirty-two gold leaf circles and elliptical shapes appear in unexpected places across the Mettenweg residence: in a corner, on the ceiling, in the stairwell.
The artwork’s playful arrangement invites a sense of exploration. “The eye is drawn to the meticulous architecture by the circles and projections of the latter, and on a meta-level, the recognition of the ‘valuable’ in life, in all possible and impossible places, becomes the focus of the project,” say BGP.
Heat generation: Groundwater heat pump and heat recovery ventilation.
Cooling: Exterior sunshade.
Electricity production: PV roof system.
Effective usable area: 4,670 square meters (50,267 square feet).
Main usable area: 3,000 square meters (32,292 square feet).
Building volume: 17,100 cubic meters (603,881 cubic feet).
The Mettenweg residential building’s construction (exterior and interior walls, ceilings, facade construction, and facade formwork) used approximately 785 cubic meters (27,722 cubic feet) of wood. “This amount grows back in the Swiss forest within about 38 minutes,” says BGP.