Paul Clairmont Apartments, Zurich (Switzerland) - Unique Apartment Living

Architects Patrick Gmür and Jakob Steib have demonstrated that in large cities, where land for residential development is scarce, intuitive design along with the versatility of concrete can enable modern, medium density, complexes where everyone can enjoy their own spacious outside living space. 

To help achieve '10,000 flats in 10 years' the City of Zurich has reclassified certain areas to allow for denser population. The section on Paul Clairmont Strasse in the south-west of the city, on which now stands the Gmür and Steib designed property, demonstrates this approach.

The architectural partnership has created an elongated, four to eight-storey residential block. The offset, room-sized balconies, with their concrete balustrades, form an even geometrical pattern that appears to dissolve as it approaches the street on the south side. This provides each apartment with a sheltered ‘exterior room’ of almost equal size to a typical terraced house garden.

On the north side, the sculptural building looks quite different, with bands of windows that emphasise its length. The sleek, homogeneous surface of white concrete acts as a tie that restrains the stepped street frontage.

The building is accessed via two entrances on the north side, which are connected within by a long corridor. Situated along this internal thoroughfare are the service areas and smaller units, which can be used as flats or offices.  Beneath each of the five staircases, which provide access to two flats on each level, is storage space.

The rooms are arranged on the north side, in three or four room configurations.  In order to make space for this, the architects pushed the two middle rooms towards the outside through the line of the façade. The living rooms with open kitchenettes, along with the balconies, are situated on the south façade.

The balconies offer residents a versatile extra room. The high solid concrete balustrade, in which a cut-out forms a window on the surroundings, combines with the protruding balconies adjacent and above to create a sheltered, two-storey private patio, while at the same time allowing daylight to penetrate deep into the apartments.

Through a simple design innovation, and the flexibility of concrete, architects Gmür and Steib have, in the form of a balcony, used a traditional building element to address the age old need for outside private space, but they have done so to intriguing effect.

Assistance of opusC : Concrete Architecture and Design acknowledged

Patrick Gmür and Jakob Steib - 

Article reproduced from CCANZ Concrete magazine