Aescherstrasse, Basel CH – Sustainable housing estate

Multi family housing, project competition 2011, 5th prize

The Paulusquartier is characterized by the varying building styles of the European historicism. This area casts its spell through its elegant restraint. Various buildings articulate the streets and play their part in rendering an identity to this quarter. Other characteristic are the attractive outdoor spaces both streetwise and yard sides. These qualities were captured and meticulously further developed. The building structure reacts to the specific interventions to the volumetry differently on both sides. The building ensures a unique address for the occupants and is a welcomed addition to the quality of the area.

Its sustainable construction should strengthen the original construction and make it come alive. Inhabitants and visitors of Aescherstrasse 12 can experience the building through the senses of the four basic elements: fire, water, air and earth. These are supplemented and strengthened by space, time and energy. It offers the ideal ambiance for the post-materialistic human being looking for harmony with nature. On entering the building, one can see a spacious foyer with staircase and a lift. To the right an introverted fireplace room is to be found that can be used to encounter or to simply gaze at the warm light of the fire. The bright garden room allows the overwintering of potted plants and spreads the smell of green nature. It leads you to the light, air and soil in the garden. The outdoor flower meadow with a cluster of trees and seating radiates contemplative peace and quiet during all seasons of the year.

The well-being area is directly connected with the garden room (which also serves as a relaxation room) via the staircase as well as via connecting steps. Through the sauna, the plunge pool and shower, people can experience water and its varied facets.

The building was constructed using prefabricated wood elements and a reinforced concrete core. Since it is an indigenous basic construction material, wood is particularly suited for structures without thermal bridges with the least possible grey energy requirement. The available forest cover in the city of Basel offers economical and ecological advantages to builders and buildings. Due to the widespread public discussion of sustainability, the presence of wood can be increasingly felt even in urban areas. Fire resistance requirements of the escape routes are met by using reinforced concrete. The fire resistance of the facade is achieved by suitable additional measures. Fire flashover is prevented by the horizontal strips. From the city’’s forests, conifers can be processed as construction wood, while oak wood, which contains tannic acid, can be processed for building the robust facade. When wandering in the forest with foresters, one can also find an expensive walnut tree, wild cherry or sarvisberry, which adorn the massive parquet floor that is built using valuable resources from in the forest – this is sustainable construction in its utmost essence.

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