AUTHOR: Lorenzo Stieger
CONTEXT: Lecture at the Symposium "Béton Fédérateur", ETH Zürich, January 25-26, 2019
KEYWORDS: terrace housing, concrete, materiality, construction, Switzerland, architecture, identity
Since the early 1960s, like hardly any other dwelling form the rapid proliferation of the hillside Terrassenhaus (terraced house) has expedited the transformation of the Swiss landscape. Legal, technical and constructive advancements in the building sector eventually facilitated the exploitation of the steep topography by using this building type, which was celebrated by its supporters – despite the historical evolvement – as a new, modern and specifically Swiss dwelling form. Nevertheless, this initial popularity soon gave way to profound criticisms concerning the architecture’s amorphous design. The typology defied the notion of common urbanist categories by transgressing the traditional distinction between a house and the city, by addressing both architectural and infrastructural aspects and, not least, by simultaneously emphasising both the individual and the collective. As the buildings and projects by local architects from the period exemplify, the core strength of the Terrassenhaus lies precisely in this ambiguous character, whose potential for urban design has barely been recognised and exhausted as such.
event page (ETH Zurich)