Buol & Zünd Architekten

Musicians' Apartment House . Basel

courtesy of Buol & Zünd Architekten . photos: michael fritschi

The various buildings of a discontinued factory dating from 1885 have been transformed into a spacious home and work environment for musicians and their families. The building fabric was not in all parts of good quality. The brick structure of the workshop in the backyard as well as the warehouse was adequate, and the buildings on Lothringerstrasse, which once housed both administration and manufacturing, were used in the ensemble since they had a certain formal panache. Structures of minor architectural value were demolished and the remaining elements incorporated into the new development, forming an interesting conglomerate of special qualities.
Acoustic adaptations enable people to both teach and live in the new apartments. Guest apartments, training rooms, a sound/recording studio, a canteen and a spacious children’s
playhall – all form part of the new musicians’ apartment house.

The structural diversity of the original factory site meant that for each building a separate conversion strategy had to be developed. The former warehouse was the biggest building, a wooden structure with a spacing of 4 x 4 x 4 meters, surrounded by a massive external wall. These characteristics have been integrated into and adapted to the new building: The internal wooden structure is being copied onto the external wall by using concrete pillars and beams, and the diagonal steel supports also show the internal structure outside.

The layout of the maisonette apartments and flat shares mirrors the grid pattern of the old wooden structure. However, in one part the existing structure was weak and was therefore replaced with a new open courtyard living space.

Compared to the regular apartments guest apartments have been more modestly refurbished, but they are also adapted to enable playing music without disturbing neighbours.

Bathroom and kitchen facilities are hidden in purpose-built furniture which is sound-absorbing, too. This furniture is designed as a gallery with a bunk bed on top, the wood-panelled encasement is designed to remind of the former warehouse shelves.

Existing building materials were partially recycled and put to good use in the new building in inventive ways. The decoration of the frosted glass panels has been inspired by a wire fence found
in the area. At first the fence was planned to be put behind glass, but in the end an abstract version of the wire was etched onto the window.

Already by now the high frequency of utilization shows the success of the new microcosm for musicians.

Apartment House, Basel (2008-2010)

Program: 9 apartments, training rooms, a sound/recording studio, a canteen and a children’s

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