Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Since our beginnings, we have been involved in residential projects. From private homes to communal housing and high-rise apartment buildings, we have explored the potential for new forms of living space across a very broad spectrum, incorporating these ideas into our urban development plans as well. Our earliest apartment projects, including the buildings on Hebelstrasse, Schwitter, Schützenmattstrasse and Rue des Suisses, ensured a well-tuned balance between the private sphere and the community. In spite of their inner-city locations, these buildings are outward-looking, offering a series of individual and communal outdoor space. The apartment building in Uster, for example, provides affordable housing with spacious verandas and individual access to the communal park. It was realized within budget through a high degree of repetition and a radical simplicity of materials. Helsinki Dreispitz in Basel was a pioneer building for the implementation of an urban planning vision. Living space above light industrial activity in the new buildings ensures that business can continue to operate within the district, allowing for a gradual urban transformation instead of just wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch.
While affordable housing is all about providing space, privacy and communal amenities on a tight budget and on a small footprint, residential towers are often significantly predefined in terms of housing offerings and typologies, and are primarily characterized by their location and views. What can an architect do in such a case? We are particularly interested in lending each individual apartment its own form of expression within the urban landscape through the arrangement of volume and facade. At 56 Leonard Street in New York, the volumes of individual apartments are outwardly visible, almost like houses. For the first residential skyscraper in London’s Canary Wharf, the identity of One Park Drive is expressed externally in the form of three different apartment types stacked on on top of the other. Each unit – almost each room – is visibly distinguished from the next.