CONTEXT & SITUATION
The project consists of 220 apartments, shops, workshops and an underground car park, divided across five blocks arranged like a hand opening towards the River Glatt. This was the last plot to be built in the new Zwicky Areal district and also the one with the most complex location, nested between the motorway, a main road, the S.Bahn elevated railway and the river.
Resolving the project’s placement within this environment required arranging the five blocks precisely so that they are defined by the empty spaces separating them. The interplay of the internal courtyards sculpts the space so that all the apartments open towards the river and the centre of Zwicky Areal. Defined in this way by their external spaces, the buildings form a noise barrier for the entire neighbourhood. The semi-private courtyards are raised relative to the public space, permitting the incorporation of an underground car park that links the ensemble together.
Around the periphery of this base level, the ground floor houses studios and retail premises which are set in the context of the neighbourhood’s unique history of trade and industry: in this way the perimeter of the raised base references the industrial context of the surrounding area. Set between the River Glatt and the centre of Zwicky Areal, the project weaves a fluid, open ensemble designed around the concept of community life, on a site formerly occupied by a spinning mill. The site’s traditional artisan heritage is therefore preserved while at the same time creating new conditions appropriate to a contemporary housing complex.
The ground plan and sections are carefully devised to mitigate the noise of the urban setting, and all the residences enjoy a situation set apart from traffic movements and from the retail and trade areas. The public walkway accentuates this simultaneous connection between the complex and its environment and its detachment from it.
STRUCTURE & ENVELOPE
Drawing inspiration from the neighbouring river, the design is conceived as a succession of strata, evoking the idea of a riverbed. Within the sculpture created by the empty spaces, the ensemble’s façades emphasise the notion of horizontality, while the tonalities of the different buildings also reflect the natural context of the river, and the idea of fluidity, minerality and vegetation.
The various buildings, arranged like the fingers and palm of an open hand, form an external carapace that becomes more refined when entering the interior of the complex. As if resting against a thick outer skin, the ensemble insulates itself against its industrial context with a thick layer of conservatories and stairwells, protecting itself in this way from the noise pollution inevitable in this outer area of the Zurich conurbation. The slab ends are thick alongside the outer transport routes, reducing in size towards the inner courtyard side. The raw, closed minerality of the outer façades makes way for a domestic atmosphere within the project’s inner spaces, generated by the passageways and balconies.
Only the central building has thin slab ends all round, because it is located at the centre of the complex. Its façade with its rhythmic pattern of loggias forms the heart of this new neighbourhood. The folds and spaces that define the overall shape of the buildings give each one its own distinct form, while the building volumes echo and respond to each other. The theme of fluidity continues in the asymmetry of the buildings, where the varying slab thicknesses underline the exploration of horizontality at the heart of the design.
The apartments are organised with bedrooms and living spaces opening to either side of the building, extended on the courtyard side by large balconies. On the outer side, stairwells protect the apartments where the façades are exposed to noise. The central building is the only one without a carapace because it is the only one set exclusively within the ensemble’s inner space. Because of this it presents an east-west typology with loggia spaces. In this protected setting the stairwells are centrally situated.
The outdoor amenities and landscaping are designed to create a vibrant neighbourhood atmosphere, with communal gardens, private areas adjoining the gardens of the ground-floor apartments, bicycle garages and a planting scheme that underscores the idea of an oasis of green echoing the atmosphere of the River Glatt. Soft mobility is encouraged by enhancing pedestrian areas and cycle paths.