LASTING AND CHANGING
HOUSE SCHAECHTER, ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, 2001.
Client family Schaechter, Zurich
Study commission, second price
Total cost estimate CHF 1.5 million, land excluded
Continuity and change in time represent this family's fundamental idea of how to live together in the smallest of all societies, the family. The relation between parents and children is strong, lasts for ever and changes over time in as much as the children once grown will leave the spaces of home and periodically return as visitors, with their new families. These abandoned spaces should convert into other new meanings, for the size of the parent's house increases the moment the children leave home. The possibility of spaces ready to be redefined by new uses offers the parents a new horizon in a crucial moment of life, where a danger of loss surfaces. They redirect their points of interest and rediscover their lives.
The spinal column and spiritual placenta of the family's home is the living room. a conceptually soft tissue - the children's rooms on the second level and multifunctional spaces in the basement - varies in time but constantly wraps the heart of the family - the living room -, which will always be here, no matter in what directions all the lives develop. The top level represents the parent's secret of love, infinite and always present. These two dialectical and simultaneously symbiotic principles - hard and soft - interrelate. The soft spaces contribute to the hard spaces and vice versa. The niches of the living room for example loom into the vertical soft spaces of the two layers of the facade, participating visually and/or acoustically at the multipurpose, music and guest rooms in the basement and/or the children's rooms on the floor above. Simultaneously they form the most comfortable niches possible of a living room; for they are ergonomically adjusted to the client's needs and the supposedly residual spaces beneath provide light for the basement. between the two facade layers of the first floor there are no residual spaces but functions for the levels below and above in terms of light, views, acoustical connection, etc..
The two principles are expressed in two different qualities of materials. Concrete stands for ever, wood changes over time. The wood panel construction in the basement and the second level can be changed and/or taken away, to offer for example the reutilization of the second level as a wide open loft. The idea of the soft spaces form on the first level the double facade that offers the space for niches, etc. and at the same time provides the light for the basement. Detached from real context relations and filled with light but not with views the basement rooms offer a timeless relaxation.
It is the interrelation of family members in all directions that form a whole and therefore a house.