Active Architecture Who is responsible for the development of our urban surrounding? Whose task is it to question everyday habits, regulations and state-run urban planning? Who may propose a second opinion?
We think architects are not only responsible for built architecture, but also for the composition and development of their urban environment. We see ourself as architects and activists who are responsible for built objects within a city, and for the city in general. Therefore we do initiate projects within an urban area, at places with a hidden potential. We take the opportunity to develop a project from scratch, a fact which became unusual in our architectural practice. We do question the current situation and analyse its context and history. With this knowledge we develop a specific programm, use, business plan, its urban relevance and architectural expression. These projects are used to test our thesis about architecture in relation to its urban relevance. With the help of the press and public media, it is our aim to start a discussion in the public, but also with the involved persons and possible clients.
The office is part of a temporary structure called ‚Basislager Zurich’. Here we take advantage of fallow land within the city. This temporary occupation generates urbanity and gives an impulse to the actual neighbourhood.
Zurich7Since early 2013 we do initiate projects in Zurich with the heuristic method. Combined to the series ‚Zurich7’ we develop seven sites within the city, to unveal their enormous potential. In seven different scales we do work autonomous from urban speculation, given programms or the purpose of the Zurich planning authorities. Bound togehter to the series‚Zurich7’ we want to give a broader relevance to each project, and we highlight several aspects which are relevant for us. Since 2013 the following four projects are finished and published: Zurich 7.1 / Parking SpiralZurich West is one of the fastest growing areas in Switzerland. Next to commercial and living uses also the art scene moves west, the new Zurich university of arts building (zhdk) opended in 2014.
The surveyed parking ramp accompanies one of the main aterial roads into Zurich, one of the cities main entrances. Since the road was expanded in 2010 the existing car park exit does not work any more. Another ramp, financed by the government was built to the side of the building. Since then this elegant spiral ramp, built in 1964, has no function any more.
The inner sequence generates an infinite loop and inspires for various conversions. We do illustrate three new functions:
A temporary gallery generates an additional space next to the new zhdk in the neighbourhood. A translucent skin retraces the given from with a thin shelter. The internal atmosphere is still defined by the existing rough surface. Even the building is not heated, it can be used from early spring to late autumn. At night the inner structure appears again and flanks as a lantern the entrance to Zurich.
A creche for children highlights the lack of opportunities for working parents. With the label‚M-budget’ Migros offers a series of family friendly products. Running the inner infinite loop up and down, happy parents will catch up their tired kids in the evening.
The third scenario, inspired by the Moma PS1 in New York, may be a satellite of the Migros art museum Zürich. The structure within a structure generates powerful spaces, distant and close to the artwork shown inside.
Zurich West is changing rapidly. The structure with its prominent form, location and unique history, has the potential to become a constant in a changing environment. It can become an indicator of Zurich West.
Zurich7.2 / Rosengarten und HardbrückeHow is the city organised in the future? Who is living there? How dense can living be in a‚city of short distances’?The ‚Westtangente’ Zurich is the main transit road in Zurich West, with more than 60'000 vehicles per day. The two storey road generates an unique urban space underneath. Here Zurich is not the postcard idyll, it is a rough place surrounded by concrete. Density and the flair of the last inner-city industry accentuate this part of the city.
Symbiotic CityAn analysis of Zurichs broader traffic system shows that Zurich West can be released from transit traffic. The nascent urban space on and beside the bridge can be converted.
Bycicles, pedestrians and public transport claim the bridge. The remaining area is used for2-4 storey lightweight buildings and urban gathering areas. A new form of living is established on the bridge, perfectly connected, no parking lots are required. The grey‚ Escher Wyss square’ will now be a two storey public space, with the ability to grow your own vegetables on top. The long central part is a lively mixed zone with structures for living, ateliers and small buisness models.
Sustainability in an urban scale means efficiency of the whole system, defined by density, diversity and the qualitiy of its network. In terms of mobility we do focus on a ‚city of short distances, where the use of a car is questioned in general. The restructuring of the traffic flow can be more than healing wounds. Here, the history of the industrial quarter can be extrapolated with a strong existing element.
Zurich7.3 / The Escher Wyss square‚Under the bridge’ traces the potentials of a grey traffic junction in a sensible way. Context, materials and rhythm are used, mixed and added by new elements. The Comic implements a playful approach to a political delicate topic. Through the eyes of a spider and saxophonist new characteristics of the square are uncovered. Perception of urban spaces are different in each individual, even unbuilt projects, like the ‚Nagelhaus’ by Caruso St. John and Thomas Demand influence real spaces.
'Dancing between the line of narrative and representation, cartooning is a medium that facilitates experimentations in proportion, composition, scale, sensibility, character plasticity, and the part-to-whole relationship as the page becomes an object.'
Jiminez Lai, Citizens of no place, an architectural graphic novelZurich 7.4 / The other presentHow can an exhibition show a design process? How can an installation change the appearance of an industrial building?
The former garage is now used the collect and repair private oldtimer. We were asked to participate in the group exhibition ‘architecture, what else?’. Not in words, but in a haptic installation we want to show the way we do generate projects. Inspired by objects found in the basement of the garage we show four windows into another present, a world parallel to what we see, a world defined by the way we work and generate space.
Weyell Berner Architekten was founded 2011 by Miriam Weyell and Florian Berner in Zurich, Switzerland. Their work in-between architecture, urban planning and design is based on a conceptual approach to new projects.
Influenced by their work in several cultures, they appreciate and encourage design solutions affected by local customs, history and materiality. Together with their clients they aim to create valuable, beloved and poetic spaces. Ecological, economical and social guidelines are not seen as constrictions, but as a potential to create personal and unique projects.
Next to their work as architects both partners write about architecture and urban phenomena, lecture and are members of juries. Both are teaching at universities in Switzerland and Germany. Miriam Weyell is member of the advisory board in Freiburg i.B. in Germany.