Since being connected to Zurich’s commuter train system in 1990, the city of Uster has enjoyed a steady increase in population. The resulting demand for housing has moved the municipal administration to densify the existing building space. One result of this new urban planning scheme is this exposed-concrete apartment house by wild bär heule architekten.
Client: Cristina Bechtler
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Location: CH–8610 Uster
The residential area where wild bär heule architekten have built their apartment house shows a cross-section of architectural history. Among the diverse estate homes, townhouses and 1970s multistorey dwellings, the sleek new structure creates a peaceful impression with its clear, cubic shape and homogeneous grey chroma. The compact cubature achieves a floor-area ratio of 1.0, which fulfills the intentions of the urban planning scheme. Inside the building, there are three apartments, each of which has its own floor plan. The architects have cleverly played with materials and contrasts. For the façade, they chose various textures of cast-in-place concrete which alternate from storey to storey. A patterned Styrofoam stencil was used on some sections to create a vertical relief. This texture is contrasted with smooth areas of concrete. Inside, the unique approach to the surfaces continues. The walls consist of large-format, hollow breezeblocks. wild bär heule architekten rejected plasterwork in favour of white paint applied directly to the walls so the joints and ripply surfaces of the blocks can be seen. A white sunscreen and light-coloured wooden floorboards act as counterpoints to the rough walls. The sunscreen is made of delicate lace which features a floral, art-nouveau-inspired pattern that casts a delightful silhouette onto the wooden floor. The individual materials of the façade and the interior spaces are delimited by joints: the architects wish to emphasize the singular functions of each material. Since the rough building materials are visible, the architects placed great value on precise craftsmanship, for even the tiniest flaw would have disturbed the overall effect.