In the Gutter
The roof ends where the gutter begins. —Swiss Proverb
The multi-family villa tradition [was] largely neglected in the twenties because of the preoccupation with industrialisation and minimal standard housing… —Hans Kollhoff
Starting in the 1920s, architects of cooperative housing in Zürich came up with an interesting solution to the urban corner problem—they simply stopped designing corners. Blocks were built as four discrete, linear slabs. Depending on one’s perspective it was either a problem ‘solved’ or one left ‘unresolved.’
The corners at Rebhügel have now been left open for nearly 100 years, but, rather than accepting this longevity as proof of success, this project looks at the open corner as a century-long open question. Here, two corners are closed along Meiliweg, giving the previously undefined cooperative a clear front or entrance. While the new corners serve to unify the two blocks, they also work to question or criticise the settlement itself. The repetitive, standardised logic of the units and the façade as well as the pancake stack of floors are all called into question. On the new corners, windows are not uniformly arrayed across the façade; rather, the windows are used sparingly and are carefully positioned so as to generate a variety of spatial sequences in the interior. The windows do not correspond to the units so much as the units correspond to the windows. This results in unique interior volumes which bend and twist over multiple levels.