Crane and Millipede – Housing estate Neuwiesen

The KRANICH (crane), which in Greek mythology was regarded as the “bird of happiness”, has made its mark on Zurich’s present day – the design of the same name by BS+EMI Architektenpartner, Hoffmann & Müller Landschaftsarchitektur and Lüchinger+Meyer was awarded 1st place in the competition for the housing estate Neuwiesen in Zurich-Schwamendingen. We are very pleased with the jury‘s appreciative conclusion: “With convincing conceptual decisions and their consistent implementation, the authors have succeeded in establishing an impressive settlement cosmos that generates its qualities from the history of the garden city, the influence of the park (“Ueberlandpark”) and an independent, convincing creative ability”. The location of the residential estate on the new 950m long motorway enclosure and the Ueberlandpark being created on it, which is to be linked in many ways with the neighbouring districts, made the task special. (In the future, the tunnel with the new rows of houses arranged vertically at the sides will look like a large-scale millipede.) The housing estate of the cooperative building society Glattal Zurich (Baugenossenschaft Glattal Zürich, BGZ) is located in the middle of the complex and will play a key role in the future development of the neighbourhood. The approximately 150 flats with a wide variety of contemporary formats, a double kindergarten and a community room are scheduled for completion by autumn 2026.
The design is essentially determined by buildings grouped in pairs, which are differentiated according to the various uses and create attractive courtyard situations. Suspended balconies, stair elements, arcades and bridges give the settlement an identity character and promote dialogue with the neighbouring park.

The proposed structural concept is simple, clear and functional. Due to the chosen spans, a high flexibility of use is promoted. For the four new buildings, each with a three-aisle linear structure, simple skeleton structures are proposed as pure timber constructions with direct load transfer. Four primary beams in glulam arranged in the longitudinal direction of the building act as Gerber beams and have a maximum span of 4.6m. The transverse ceilings (spans 4.3m / 2.60m / 4.3m) are simple timber beam ceilings consisting of solid timber beams and three-layer panels. Supports made of glulam complete the timber structure. The horizontal stabilisation is not carried out classically via the access cores, but by means of regularly arranged H-shaped wall elements. The basement levels are made of recycled concrete in the tried-and-tested solid construction method. The building wing above the existing tram tunnel is supported by a prestressed concrete structure with a 17m span. The chosen grid, the proposed materialisation and the high degree of prefabrication result in an economical load-bearing structure. In addition, it makes a significant contribution to sustainability due to the use of wood in combination with recycled concrete and the high flexibility of use.
“With an impressively simple wooden skeleton construction, the authors propose a construction system that specifically characterises both the access balcony flats and the terraced maisonette flats in a way that is in line with the project and creates a convincing cosiness,” was the jury‘s verdict.

All competition entries can be viewed in a public exhibition at Hallenbad Oerlikon.

(Visualisations: ZUEND IMAGES)