Invited Housing Competition, Zürich, September - December 2012

Krater & Fluss is a housing project comprised of seven buildings that utilize orientation and the natural landscape to create a harmonious relationship with the environment. While the existing buildings are oriented towards the cardinal directions, the proposed structures are directed towards the topographical current of the landscape. The design rotates around two pivot points, which are both located on extrapolated extensions of Stotzstrasse, the road that divides the site into two disparate parts. Stotzstrasse runs along the dip line of the Albis chain and is perpendicular to Maneggpromenade which is parallel to the curves of the river Sihl. One pivot point is located at the intersection of Stotzstrasse’s extension towards the center-point of the crater to the northwest and the extension of south facade of the existing most northern building, while the other pivot point is located along the extension of Stotzstrasse towards the most pronounced bend of the river. The curvature of the crater and the river recurs throughout the design as guiding principles, for example, in the conical rounding of window frames.

Each building has two facades that are directed towards one of the two pivot points. The remaining two facades of each building are created by drawing right angles from these initial “rotated facades.” Thus, each building has diametrically opposed obtuse and acute corners. Inside, the floor plans are developed in such a way that the stairwell and living room reflects the rotation of the external shape. These internal rotations facilitate circulation and views as well as bring a unified fluidity to the overall scheme. 

All new buildings are organized around a central stairwell, like a pinwheel. Each floor of the pinwheel layout has two, three, or four apartments that rotate around the core. This organization eliminates the possibility of a unit with solely northern exposure, and also introduces a corner balcony into each apartment, allowing natural light and ventilation to circulate through the living spaces.  

The new buildings also allude to the materiality, details, and scale of the existing building. The new entryways are "softened" with round bricks and the new fenestration proportions match those in the existing window layouts. To maximize both aesthetics and energy efficiency, the design maintains the building located at 48 Stotzstrasse and reinvents its façade to give it the same external insulation and materiality as the new structures.

Along Maneggpromenade, the design offers storefronts for community-oriented businesses that serve the district. In addition to the existing Maneggpromenade-Kindergarten, the design introduces a daycare to facilitate the advent of new families into the neighborhood. The children in these spaces can also enjoy playgrounds at both the northern and southern edge of the site. At the intersection of Stotzstrasse and Maneggpromenade, there is a neighborhood cafe and a florist that caters to those visiting the cemetery located up the road. Other storefronts could be leased as medical offices or art studios. The setback of the southernmost building facilitates a large public multi-purpose room on the ground floor with outdoor seating and gathering areas. These programs will enliven the promenade as well as maintain the tranquility of the communal garden spaces that reside within the rotated masses.

Project team: Joana Bem-Haja, Zach Cohen, Madeline Hollander, Gianfranco Rosetti
Landscape architects: Studio Karst, Sophia Carstensen, Joachim Vogt
Cost and profit calculations: Jaeger Baumanagement, Maurus Jaeger

Krater & Fluss