Frei + Saarinen Architekten

R House . Kilchberg

Frei + Saarinen Architekten . photos: © Stefan Wuelser, Zurich

Frei + Saarinen’s first constructed statement on how to build a living space can be experienced in Kilchberg, Switzerland: within the familiar structure of a cubic space with circular windows an area of spacious opulence unfolds which is based on three ideas: Firstly there is the ground floor which consists of an interlaced spatial concept connecting the East and West gardens through three slightly meandering offset tiers.

Illuminated by streaks of light, the L shaped walls are so entwined in each other that Cartesian interaction occurs, this defines the ambiance in the living and eating areas, whose floor areas possesses no less than 14 corners. Secondly our standpoint is clear that communal areas should be generously appointed and usable for any activities required (in relation to corresponding, unobtrusively dimensioned individual spaces). This can be most consequently seen on the top floor, which consists of an S shaped continuum including the central hall and the adjoining terrace areas, which can be connected through the opening of fully concealable sliding glass. And thirdly not all double flight staircases have been set on top of one another which allows for the emergence of a promenade which is affected by a variety of in, through and outward views and highly varied room-heights. The design trajectory is also the connecting element which allows the four floors to be conceived in extremely different ways, without the threat of them becoming separate elements of the whole. That the overlaying of space, its exposure to light and that the view is carefully allocated, is assisted by twenty windows and door openings, this creates a very unique atmosphere, whereby on a subtle level the complex structure of the buildings shell and the interior decoration also play a part. The various spatial layouts on the individual floors have a requirement for a complex supporting structure which is based on the cumulative effect of the shear walls and floors. This also allows the possibility to coordinate a nonsupported parking garage of comparatively enormous dimensions for four automobiles under the house. The ability to arrange special features in conjunction with every day features and to concretize complex spatial constellations with trusted resources appears to be characteristic of our work. Whilst in the St.Joseph rectory it was the wall panels which relativized the dynamic of the space, in Kilchberg it is the interior design as well as the very normal perforated façade which in our opinion provides for a pleasant level of familiarity.

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