A Miracle of Space: Living Science Housing Estate by Stücheli Architekten
Client: Luzerner Pensionskasse
Architect: Stücheli Architekten
Location: Peter-Debye-Weg 13/15/17, ETH Hönggerberg, 8093 Zürich (CH)
Living Science finds its place at the southwest end of the ETH campus. The apartment building comprises four sleek tracts, each of which extends from east to west and is positioned parallel to the others. They are joined as two functional units by central atriums. While the north part of the duo has seven storeys, its neighbour is a bit lower with six levels. An even lower volume connects the two tracts on the east side.
Wooden slats of black-oiled, roughsawn white spruce dominate the façade. Depending on the direction, these are either horizontal and have been combined with bands of windows; otherwise, they open as gills: vertical scale-like elements that provide indirect lighting. In contrast to the dark exterior views, the atriums in the centre are bright and airy. The walls have been finished in simple white plaster; a glass roof covers the area. Apart from a central catwalk, each level has small bridges leading to the left and right to form private entries to the apartments. This open structure consists of exposed concrete combined with delicate white balustrades; it makes the access area to the apartments into a communicative space. The friendly ambience continues inside: the apartments have wooden floors and white fittings.
The considerable density of Living Science deserves special mention. The residential project offers space for more than 200 units, with more than 400 rooms for students. These units have been conceptualized as apartments for one, two or six residents. With this project, Stücheli Architekten have impressively proved that it is possible to provide a predetermined number of high-quality living units by using a slick floor plan. The architects have grouped each of the private areas around communal zones. In the larger apartments, these appear in the form of spaces within the units; for the smaller units, they are neighbourhoods. Because of this, the limited available space has resulted in apartments that optimize every inch and yet seem spacious.