Live-Work Complex Kalkbreite

Title: Live-Work Complex Kalkbreite
Location: Zürich, Switzerland
Office: Müller Sigrist Architekten
Authors: Pascal Müller, Grit Jugel, Johannes Maier (PL), Lea Berger, Gisella Chacon, Sabine Scheler
Category: Collective Places
Video: HyggeTV (Lene Harbo Pedersen, Jörg Koopmann)
Photos: Michael Egloff

A city in itself

The residential and commercial complex with integrated tram depot stands at a prominent point marking the boundary between two city districts. It combines residential, service and commercial uses in an identity-lending, large but compact form.
The seven-storey building is a hybrid construction with a façade made of prefabricated wood elements. The plaster walls of the polygonal perimeter block development dazzle in colours ranging from orange to turquoise.
On the south side, the perimeter block is only one storey high in relation to the courtyard; as a result, the courtyard and bordering apartments receive an abundance of natural light. The roof of the depot, which is 9 m above street level, serves as a publicly accessible 2,500-m2 plaza: a spacious inner courtyard. A peaceful green area open to everyone, the courtyard is a new neighbourhood meeting place. In line with the project’s community spirit and as a complementary communal space, an interior corridor runs through two storeys of the building, connecting all volumes. Like a cascade, the circulation route moves from the foyer, along the cluster units, to the courtyard, where it meets a series of stepped roof terraces surrounding the courtyard.

An urban centre for communal living and working

The Kalkbreite complex is serving as a model for new dwelling forms, offering high flexibility and a variety of housing types. There are apartments with two, three, four, or five bedrooms for traditional nuclear families; apartments with up to seventeen bedrooms for extended households; and studios with bathrooms and kitchenettes grouped into larger “clusters” with shared common space and a communal kitchen. There is an extralarge group of twenty apartments for fifty residents who share a staffed kitchen; and to allow for the usual household flux — e.g., a grandparent arriving to help the parents of a newborn, a visiting professional in town for a project — there are nine “jokers,” small units (about 28 m2) with private bathrooms but no kitchens, distributed throughout the project and available for time-limited rental for commercial or residential use.
The design of public areas fosters the opportunity for encounters and conversation: the complex features large entrance halls, a cafeteria, a laundry, workplaces, study and meeting rooms – even a bed and breakfast. In addition to a cinema that occupies three floors, the building accommodates cafés, eateries and shops – some stretching two storeys high – and, on a first-floor mezzanine level, offices and ateliers. The cooperative employs a caretaker, and a number of on-site services are provided to residents and others in the neighbourhood. Communal facilities compensate to some degree for the lack of private living space (32m2 per person). Rooms and functions normally used for temporary occasions are taken out of people’s homes and put in rentable units elsewhere in the building.