Volière – A living shelf in the “enchanted gardens”

The sloping site, the protected tree population and the location at a noisy street intersection made the competition task for a new housing development on the Rotbuchgut in Zurich-Unterstrass a complex one. 15 teams took up the challenge of developing affordable and sufficiant housing for 100 people at this location for the Einfach Wohnen (SEW) foundation. With the project of the Rotbuch settlement, the foundation is pursuing the vision of a multigenerational residential area in which a lively neighborhood with a mixed-age and mixed-origin community can thrive.

The team led by Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin Architects, which included the structural engineers from Lüchinger+Meyer, was able to secure the 1st place in this demanding procedure. Their project “Volière” proposes an organic-landscape-like large-scale form that encloses the garden spaces with the magnificent tree population in a bracket-like manner. The shelf-like building structure offers a versatile and atmospherically dense living environment for the various residents.

Two criteria decisively shape the construction and materialization of the design: a cost-effective construction in addition to low-maintenance operation, as well as a simple load-bearing structure that is independent of the room structure and allows for a future restructuring of the apartment floor plans. Against this background, on the structural side, an economical and conventional skeleton construction with prefabricated columns and thin in-situ concrete floors is proposed. This continuous skeleton will be closed on the facades and in the interior with a timber construction.
We are pleased with the jury‘s final commendation: “VOLIÈRE is a project developed symbiotically with the existing natural environment, with overall sustainability as a central design theme. The house is conceived as an open shelf that weaves itself into nature, accommodating 120 people and offering a wide variety of community spaces. The strong economic and sustainability scores reflect a balanced consideration of synergies between resource efficiency, net-zero and urban climate, and the relationship of built form to trees and outdoor space.”

The exhibition will take place from Monday, June 22 to and including Sunday, July 04, 2021 in the exhibition room of the Office of Structural Engineering, Pavillon Werd, Morgartenstrasse 40, 8004 Zurich.

(Photos: EMI Architekten)