The close connection between practice, research and teaching characterises the career of Elli Mosayebi. Since 2004 she has led the Zurich-based architecture office Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin together with Ron Edelaar and Christian Inderbitzin. Through numerous projects won through competitions, housing and urban design assumed a special significance. From 2004 to 2008 she was research assistant at the Chair for Architecture Theory under Prof. Dr. Ákos Moravánszky, in which she completed her doctoral dissertation on the domestic work of the Milanese architect Luigi Caccia Dominioni. From 2012 to 2018 she was Professor for Design and Housing at TU Darmstadt, where she conducted a comparative study of post-war European housing. Since 2018 she holds the position of Professor for Architecture and Design at ETH Zurich. Housing and the change it is currently undergoing are integral aspects of her fields of both practice and research.
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By the Architects:
The Schwamendingen district, designed as a garden city by AH Steiner around 1948, is still valid today and has retained much of its original character as Zurich's “garden room”, which is characterized by spacious residential areas with linear buildings of low density and permeable outdoor spaces. Of particular interest are the often fine gradations of the intensity of use and the degree of publicity in the open spaces.The Herbstweg residential area is characterized by two-story row houses and three-story apartment buildings. Numerous single-family houses continue the building pattern of the adjoining Oerlikon district. The few taller buildings in the Herbstweg district were not built as replacement buildings until the 1980s.The immediate vicinity of the planning perimeter is characterized by single-family houses. Some of these are located within larger building plots, i.e. in the second and third row, and are accessed through narrow access paths. The outdoor spaces are predominantly private and are used intensively as heavily green gardens.
The project envisages two (and a subordinate third) structures which, in their volumetric development, adapt important features of the surrounding buildings and external spaces, such as facades, building heights and depths, and the dimensions of the private gardens in the depth of the construction site . In order to preserve the character of the settlement typology and to benefit from the atmosphere of the surrounding gardens, the buildings were not allowed to have more than three storeys.Due to the “shapeless” floor plan, the actual dimensions of the building cannot be grasped from any point of view. Rather, individual parts of the building appear related in terms of their dimensions to surrounding detached houses or terraced houses. The color scheme, which changes over the building edges, supports this strategy of contextualization by breaking and fragmenting the volumes. The project thus reacts to the large differences in density between the surrounding stock and new buildings.The outdoor spaces should also tie in with the “garden carpet” of the surrounding properties. However, no fenced-off private gardens were sought, but rather a hybrid, informal spatial character between private and communal use. This is possible because the ground floor apartments also have their seat on an arbor protected from view. Similar to the terraced houses in the area, the intensity of private use decreases with increasing distance from the building and the vegetation (free-growing shrubs and smaller trees typical of the area) becomes more permeable. The extent to which the garden spaces are used jointly or privately also depends largely on the respective residents and can change over time and needs. At the same time, they offer a retreat and the opportunity for closer neighborly contacts. On the western and eastern border of the parcel, narrow footpaths connect Tramstrasse and Funkwiesenstrasse. They guarantee permeability and integration into the quarter.In contrast to the gardens, the access situations to the houses are flat, multi-use areas. They are located at the opposite corners of the property and overlap with play areas and the outdoor area of the common room. Different types of surface (asphalt, chaussing, grass) change depending on the dominant use. The outside spaces at Brüggliäcker become the center of the settlement.The connection to the surrounding garden structures is established through the diverse and local planting of apple trees, ornamental cherries and pines. The two particularly valuable trees in the northern area have been preserved. Sealed areas are limited to direct house entrances. With their different atmospheres, the diverse areas in the outside space cover the various needs of the residents.
The house entrances are distributed on the narrow sides of the properties. Inside the building, two stairwells are connected via a hall that can be seen from the outside. Laundry rooms and a room for bicycles and prams are also part of this communal space. Three apartments per floor are accessed via each stairwell. All apartments, including the four terraced apartments in the third building, are step-free and accessible for the disabled. The common room is on the ground floor and opens up to the two central, public access points on Brüggliäckerweg.All apartments have three expositions and are characterized by a central, openly structured living, dining and cooking area that extends between the facades. Individual areas of these living spaces have an informal, flatly determined character where different things can take place. They work for housework, as a workplace or play area and allow both family and multi-person households a variety of forms of living. The rooms are arranged peripherally in the apartment corners and accessed directly from the living room. This means that there are no corridors, which benefits the size of the living, dining and cooking areas. Individual rooms can be opened to the living room via sliding doors. The large bathroom is dimensioned so that there is space for a wash tower or changing table.The private outdoor spaces are generously designed in the form of arbors in line with the intention of “garden living”. The apartments either have two such «garden rooms» on the east and west sides or an arbor open on three sides.
The quarter is characterized by high-quality buildings from the 1950s. The project seeks a relationship in terms of content and mood to these buildings. In order to underplay the size of the required building volume and to make reference to the “rural” models of the garden city, the houses are clad with rear-ventilated, vertical wooden cladding. The presented arbors are made of painted in-situ concrete, which contrasts the "soft" appearance of the wooden formwork. The changing colors over the edges of the building (a glaze on exposed areas, a color on protected areas) breaks the size of the volumes several times and communicates with the context.The supporting structure is created as a conventional solid construction in in-situ concrete and brick. The load is transferred vertically. The roof is only slightly inclined and designed as a conventional, extensively greened flat roof. The interior construction materials are functional and robust. During the construction, attention was paid to extensive system separation so that components can easily be replaced according to their service life. Construction methods, materials and ventilation concept meet the Minergie-Eco requirements. The insulation thicknesses in the roof and facades as well as the compactness of the volumes also guarantee the energetic requirements of the Minergie standard.
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By the Architects:
The Guggach area is located in a topographically and urban-structurally distinctive location: in the saddle between the two ridges of Käferberg and Zürichberg and at the interface between Zurich's Unterstrass and Oerlikon quarters and Zurich's inner city and northern city. The project expresses this central urban location. The previously unused plots in this location offer the opportunity to carry out sensible inner-city densities and to create coveted living space. This potential should be given form in a new urbanity.The project consists of four urban, seven- and eight-story apartment buildings, which encompass the entire area in its east-west extension. The “new urbanity” is created through a concentration of high density and spacious outdoor spaces. The urban development position of the volumes reflects the specific location, in that each apartment offers a view of the neighboring forest to the west, to the north or south over the roofs of the city and into the interior of the area. This geographical location provides orientation and is identity-building. In addition, despite the density, the urban position offers a high degree of privacy, as the neighboring buildings are at a great distance from your own apartment.
Space and development The Guggach area is understood as a public and permeable space that is connected to the quarter via two paths that cross the property. The primary route in east-west direction leads from a square on Hofwiesenstrasse in the northeast through the area to Käferholzstrasse, which runs along the forest. The secondary development in north-south direction ensures a link to the existing settlement in the south and the planned one in the north. A junction from Käferholzstrasse leads directly to the exit of the underground car park and frees the area from everyday through traffic. The house entrances are located on the north side of the building.The residents of the Guggach area benefit from the close proximity to the recreational area of the Käferberg forest. The open space of the facility supplements this offer with an outdoor space with artificial qualities: polygonal water basins divide it into public and private areas. Via the reflections, the flat water levels incorporate the cast glass clad facades into the exterior space and create a contained, spacious urban space. Together with various plantings, water levels and green areas separate the private gardens of the ground floor apartments from the public access routes and protect against unwanted views.
The floor plan of the apartments is based on a cross figure, which, to a certain extent, extends the north-south orientation of the building to an all-round nature, with morning and evening light falling into the kitchen and part of the living room. Each apartment has two loggias, which also make the building “all-round” to the outside. The resident doesn’t look at a “back” anywhere. The cross-shaped type also allows the diagonals of the apartments to be expanded, thereby increasing the distances in the interior. Private rooms are arranged peripherally around this cross figure. Ancillary rooms such as reduit, dressing room or bathrooms are assigned to the individual rooms. Connecting doors between the rooms and the living room expand this additionally and uncover the development of the loggia glazing in the interior.The apartments on the ground floor are organized in the same way as the standard floors. Only the living space facing the garden is higher, on the one hand to bring in more daylight and on the other hand to create an additional distance to the apartment above. Two fundamentally different types of apartments are offered in the two-storey attic. One develops over two floors and resembles a “single-family house on the roof”. The other describes a narrow, south-facing living space figure that is only connected to the north side via a room. 60 different apartment types are offered among the approximately 200 apartments.The color and material concept of the Guggach residential development was developed against the background of its urban position and importance. This means an expression that, on the one hand, conveys an urban elegance that corresponds to the future significance of the quarter around Bucheggplatz as a link between the inner and northern part of the city. On the other hand, the immediate proximity to the Käferberg landscape or the “dark background” of the steeply rising forest flank is decisive - the residential complex, with its facades in dark tones, does not focus on creating contrasts, but on an integrative and mediating effect.The facade was clad with a glass skin. The ambivalent nature of the cast glass, which is backed with dark tones (wine red, aubergine, petrol green), which appears heavy and massive and at the same time reflective and receptive to the change of light, gives the project its specific effect. The building contour is broken up by reflections and highlights. The reflections of the shallow water basins complete this effect in the outside space and also anchor the project in the landscape.
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By the Architects:
Urban space and district The storage area is located in a specific urban development situation between a block edge district (district maintenance zone QI 4b), a heterogeneous development around Wipkingerplatz, the Hardbrücke and the river basin, which calls for a high-performance, Janus-faced solution. The project takes these conditions into account with a volume which, with its expressive shape and two differently formulated sides, creates a high level of presence and independence, but at the same time fulfills mediating functions.This means in particular the head training for Wipkingerplatz, which has the power to give this place a new identity. On the Hönggerstrasse side, the expression of the new building ties in with the typical neighborhood block perimeter buildings, which have a classic structure into plinths, standard floors and attic as well as architectural elements such as bay windows and roof terraces. The external materialization also follows this intention with a new interpretation. The generous, public passage to the Limmat also appears as a well-known “courtyard passage”.On the river side, the fine terracing of the garden, the formation of the “courtyard buildings” as the base of the building, as well as balconies and roof terraces, create a unique character that can be read as a vertical or hanging garden. It creates a high residential quality and at the same time a landscape-related, yet urban expression towards the Limmat.
The ground floor mediates between the street and river side: the “open spaces” arranged here have public space areas with shop windows facing Hönggerstrasse, which open onto the garden and river in a two-storey structure and can be successively privatized. This means that these rooms can be used both as shops and as studios with residential use. A lightweight construction between levels ± 0 and -1 allows great freedom for expansion. There are direct and clear entrances to the three stairwells embedded between the “open rooms”; two of them are exclusively for residential use, the third with a representative entrance hall for office and commercial use.In the existing courtyard building, which is prominently located on the public passage or the path connection to the river, an atelier and on the river side a small restaurant with a terrace - for example a gelateria for summer users of the river area - are proposed. The studio could periodically be given to an artist in residence to give the place a magnetic force.Representative, easily visible rooms on Wipkingerplatz are also planned for the Speicher company on two floors.
Above the ground floor there are three standard floors, which are identical apart from the outside rooms, each with appropriately sized apartments that differ in terms of the number of rooms, as well as a commercial area at the top of the building that can be easily divided. The building has efficient access, with three apartments and the commercial space on each floor being accessed via a stairwell. A small two-room apartment, a spacious three-room and a spacious four-room apartment are offered per floor and stairwell. The six apartments on level +1 have a green terrace, the apartments on levels + 2 / + 3 each have deep, partially drawn-in balconies that provide good noise protection.The commercial areas accessed with the third stairwell can be flexibly divided into units due to the skeleton construction. Possible divisions and uses are shown in the plans. Shafts at the front of the staircase enable toilets and tea kitchens to be easily connected in the building depth without the need for shafts in the usable areas. The noise protection is given by a controlled ventilation.
Attic and roof terraces On the attic level, the number of apartments is reduced from six to four units, which are designed to be more spacious according to the location. A large five-room and a larger two-room apartment are attached to each of the two stairwells. They complement the apartment mix that fulfills the required key (a total of 22 apartments). Above the commercial space in the attic, “young rooms” with around 160 m2 are offered, the expansion of which also leaves various options open.The large five-room apartments and the “young rooms” have an internal staircase to a private roof terrace, which complements the outdoor spaces at apartment level. Two more roof terraces are accessible from the stairwells and can be used by all residents. The roof terraces, some of which are also green, complete the idea of the vertical garden on the river side. The unused roof areas are intended for hot water collectors.
The building volume builds up a strong presence towards the “hard” Wipkingerplatz with a strong, urban gesture and occupies the corner with a large building depth made possible by two bay windows.Facing Hönggerstrasse, the building body seeks an affinity for the usual perimeter block development with a reinterpretation of the classic three-way division into plinth, standard floors and attic. This consists in a plastic blurring or amalgamation of the three areas, which contributes significantly to the expressiveness and the expressiveness required at the location. The windowing also seeks proximity to the existing building. At the same time, the horizontal hole openings, which change to ribbon-like windows facing the square (office use), transform the expression into a contemporary architectural language.The materialization with slightly shiny ceramic - in its color reminiscent of the ocher-colored bricks typical of the area - counterpoints or dematerializes the relative massiveness and weight of the body through light reflections that vary depending on the time of day. The light aluminum supports this urban elegance in expression.
The apartment floor plans offer a large amount of space and various possible uses. The layouts also react to the difficult conditions of noise protection: an open room on the river side, which can be used for various purposes and also added to living, allows a reduction to a few rooms facing Hönggerstrasse, which are ventilated via bay windows and incisions to the side. Balconies and entrances provide good noise protection for all rooms on the river side. In addition to the “open room”, very private rooms are also offered, some of which are accessed via closed anteroom, to which the bathrooms and reduit are also attached.
The building is to be constructed using a conventional skeleton construction in in-situ concrete and prefabricated spun concrete columns, so that there is maximum flexibility in the organization of the floor plans during planning and later conversions. The load transfer as well as the shaft routing takes place vertically up to level -2 / in the underground car park (Minergie-Eco criterion). The interior walls can thus be bricked up conventionally and inexpensively or constructed using dry construction. Between the levels ± 0 and -1, the concrete ceiling is only just pulled into the center of the building in order to allow flexibility in the cut, so that two-storey rooms are easily possible in the open spaces.The facade is intended as a compact facade with small, vertically structured ceramics; a construction that has meanwhile been tried and tested and is offered as a system, which gives the building the described, unmistakable expression and is largely maintenance-free. Wood-metal windows with light anodized aluminum underline the noblesse and elegance of the address. The colourfulness and texture also seeks a structural affinity to the buildings typical of the district with their ocher-colored bricks on the standard floors.Sufficient insulation thicknesses, natural materials and the generation of renewable energy (e.g. hot water collectors on the roof) ensure that the Minergie eco label is achieved.
The formulation of the river side is based on the idea of a “green arena”, a vertical garden. This idea is overlaid with two further aspects: firstly, with the idea of a green space that is gradually cultivated with the height, that is, from the “wild” nature of the river area to an increasingly “artificial” aggregate state. Secondly, this development is accompanied by an increasing privatization of green spaces: the lowest areas on Kloster-Fahr-Weg, which can be publicly accessible in combination with local use in the courtyard building and the path connection to the quarter, are followed by communal areas for the entire house as well as the open spaces. Finally, the terraces, balconies and roof terraces are reserved for residents.
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By the Architects:
The Hottingen district is characterized by a high degree of homogeneity. This is less due to a continuous building structure than to the quality of the open spaces: the street spaces, gardens and partly old trees are characteristic of the quarter. The buildings, on the other hand, include individual villas, solitary apartment buildings as well as large-scale public buildings (Rämibühl, Spital, etc.).This urban situation can be found in the project perimeter and the task: a street-related villa is related to a small studio house (this is how the restricted situation on Pestalozzistrasse is interpreted) and a larger apartment building inside the tree-lined property.Against the background of this statement, the project eludes a clear typological and stylistic classification. Its anchoring in the context is sought in a volumetry, which is bound by the specific requirements of the property, as well as an atmospheric affinity to the location: the volume does not occupy a street line (not possible due to the stock of trees) nor the center of the park (like the villas), but rather is multidimensional Property and does not create classic representative rooms from any side. Rather, the proximity to the existing trees on the flanks of the property is sought, which thus become a defining part of the architecture.In formal terms, the house is therefore less oriented towards the surrounding buildings and their classic formal vocabulary than towards natural forms or ruins, the architectural form that is closest to natural forms.
The house consists of three full floors and an attic. The four apartments on one floor are each slightly offset in their height, which is possible due to the vertical access and strengthens the plasticity and verticality of the building. The two standard floors N + 1 and N + 2 are identical, the mezzanine floor has been slightly modified and the number of apartments on the attic floor is reduced to three.Similar to the design of the building, the apartment floor plans follow a soft, situationally determined geometric grammar. Typologically, the floor plans oscillate between “figure and chamber”: the open room figure with living, dining and cooking areas can be understood as the dissolution of a cabinet structure which, as a communal living space, differs or separates it from the cellular chambers of the individual rooms. The flowing spatial figure adjoins various facades and creates views in several directions. The living rooms offer up to three orientations including the corner loggias. In the formulation of the facade development, optimal exposure and tanning of all apartments is achieved. The clear room height is 2.80 meters.The apartments in the villa will be integrated into the existing room structure. They only require minor modifications. The small studio house on Pestalozzistrasse offers yet another form of living due to its skeleton structure with a few, large rooms accessible via the façade. The two identical apartments on the standard floor each have an additional, differently usable space for living or working on the roof or at garden level.
Pedestrians and drivers alike can access the house via Steinwiesstrasse. The underground parking ramp is being converted, appears in the garden space as an over-high retaining wall and encompasses or privatizes the house entrance. Hydrangeas accompany this path and mediate in a lovely "gardenesque" way between the park-like garden and the building. The house entrance is located on a square-like, but intimate spatial extension of the path. The entrance hall is tight but representative and connects the two lifts and stairwells (evacuation takes place directly from the stairwells into the garden, the hall can be furnished and does not require fire compartments). A secondary path leads from Irisstrasse from the other side into the hall and is reserved for residents.The type of elevator is remarkable: it leads directly from the entrance hall to the hall of your own apartment. This ends the public space in the entrance hall and the elevator is already part of the private space. Despite the “density” in the apartment building, the kind of privacy that corresponds to the ideas of upscale living in the city can be achieved. Due to its importance, the dimensions of the lift are generous.The existing park-like garden is of high quality. The garden monument reveals the traces of time. In the field of tension between usage requirements and tranquility, we test our mindfulness and continue writing the garden history. The building fits into the old tree population and is in close dialogue. Magnolias were introduced as a new element, dancing between the buildings and playing on the lawn, interspersed with colorful primroses.
The new building is constructed using conventional solid construction. The façades are insulated on the outside and clad with finely chiseled ceramics, a tried and tested, permanent construction that is offered with a system guarantee. Surfaces corresponding to the segment are used in interior construction. Terrazzo was chosen as the floor covering.The reflections and color nuances of the dark green ceramic, which change with the time of day, counterpoint the relative bulk and heaviness of the body. As a textile-like dress, the cladding responds to the folds in the facade: the bright anodized aluminum windows protrude as if between drawn curtains and give the house its unmistakable, elegant urban address.The new building on Pestalozzistrasse is also massive, with ceilings made of in-situ concrete and prefabricated in-situ concrete supports. The skeleton structure is a prerequisite for continuous ribbon windows and the described floor plan typology. The expression of the house is reminiscent of proto-modern, modest studio houses.
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