Architects: Marco Graber, Thomas Pulver, Alexander Huhle, Beat Kübler
Photos by: Philip Heckhausen
Typology: Collective housing
Location: Zurich
Date: 2010 – 2014

Housing Development Grünmatt for the Family Cooperative Zürich

As a replacement for the row housings from the 1920’s, the goal was to design a contemporary piece of a Garden City with 160 cooperative apartments, a kindergarten, a common room and a residential care group. The design reacts on these provisions and the site along the Friesenberg slope with slender wooden buildings, grouped in low curved rows following the contour lines and thus modulate the topography. Due to the sloped site, the upper floors obtain a free view over the neighbouring lower row. Each unit’s living space stretches from one facade to the other and has continuous loggias towards the south, partially with an adjacent private garden. The vehicles are parked underground between the two upper building rows.
Differentiated radii widen and narrow the open space stretched between the building rows and create two diagonal shifted squarelike situations with possibilities to reside and to play. The cooperative idea of the collective is supported by an almost monumental superelevation which derives from the depth of the perspective space. The tectonically joined, continuous loggia elements made of prefabricated concrete poles and slabs on the south side, which create light and shadow effects are juxtaposed with the convex bent « stretched skin » at the north facade.
We are equally intrigued by the spatial gesture of the rows, which radiate generosity due to their curve and the staccato of the loggias, as by the efficiency of the wooden and concrete construction. The architectonic expression derives from a restrained and unagitated detailing and the modesty of the wood. The overhanging roofs as constructive weather protection seem similar appropriate as the reduced ornamentation of the slate boarding on the north sides tilted by ninty degrees respectively, which weave the windows of the various types of apartments into a fine fabric. The pigmented paintwork with its differentiated colouring scheme creates an additional design layer.