The GBMZ, one of the larger housing cooperatives in Zurich was interested in proposals for the redevelopment of one of their plots. The project should maximize the allowed density and feature a wider mix of apartment types than the existing buildings. 
Our Project developed around principles we derived from our study of traditional joinery. We were most influenced by the principle of joining objects directly and connecting them by interlocking, without the use of a third element.

The direct contact between architectural elements fosters exchange more than separate circulation elements would. We see the circulation inside the spaces as a positive element which enlivens them and encourages chance encounters. For our design we focused on developing the different boundaries between the public and private realm. In order to foster exchange there are no clear boundaries between the different layers of privacy, just subtle gestures separating the spaces. 

The urban plan builds on the typical perimeter block typology in the area that focuses on a central courtyard. The courtyard is accessible to the public and available as a versatile recreational area. We separate the courtyard into two parts by constricting it in one place to allow for more privacy in an area used by the kindergarten and the school. The more public side features a large lawn, which can easily be appropriated for a multitude of uses. 
Between the courtyard and the stairwell, a double height common room acts as a covered outdoor space, where residents can meet, cook and exchange with passers-by. It acts as a hub for courtyard parties and other outdoor activities. The staircase as one of the primary places for chance encounters between the residents is generously proportioned and lit by daylight to make it more hospitable. It ends in the winter garden and laundry space under the roof. We propose dedicating this valuable space to the community instead of building penthouses, because we believe that the communal aspects of life are one of the most important factors of life in a housing cooperative.
Entering the apartment from the stairwell one arrives in the narrowest part of the living space. On one side it opens up into a dining room with an open kitchen and on the other side there is the living room. All of the bedrooms connect directly to the common social space of the apartment. 
The construction is fully modular and designed with the assembly as well as the eventual disassembly of the building in mind. For this we looked at the car industry that has engaged with this topic for a much longer time, than the building industry and tried to gain insights by disassembling a car. The components we use are designed in a way that elements with a shorter life span, like the wall panels can easily be replaced and all of the elements can eventually be disposed according to material type. Life cycle assessment informed the choice of materials and allowed us to optimize the architecture to lower the amounts of the most impactful materials that we couldn't replace. 
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