Max Dudler Grünhof Areal Zurich

Photography: Stefan Müller
Date: October 19, 2021

Right in the centre of Zürich’s lively inner city, Max Dudler has created a new residential quarter, the Grünhof-Areal. A network of varied inner courtyards develops out of the lively arrangement of the buildings, imparting the feel of an urban oasis. As re-densification inside a block development, the new quarter combines the urgent need for new living space in the city with elevated living comfort and lifestyle.

The geometrical structure of the urban building ensemble creates an exciting dialogue with the pre-existing peripheral buildings. As a meandering multi-part body, the new buildings reach out into different directions. A narrow volume pushes through the block edge to the front directly onto the street, representing the quarter as its head building and entry point. A new passageway complements the urban layout and thus creates a connection from the street to the interior of the quarter. Like a world of its own made up of different courtyards, the moving figure of the development opens up a structure of interflowing outdoor spaces with different atmospheres and uses. Paths and large double-storey passageways connect the squares and green spaces.
Thanks to the design and choice of materials the interior passageways have the feel of indoor corridors. They also take on the function of generous entrées to the residential buildings. The transition between indoor and outdoor, between private and public spaces is one of the most defining motifs of the quarter. The Grünhof-Areal is an exemplary contribution to the subject of inward re-densification of an urban structure.

The design met a special challenge by realising a high level of living quality within the restricted spaces of a pre-existing urban quarter. With the thoughtful further development of the historically evolved location and the clever structuring of spaces, a quarter has been created that combines individuality and urban community. The landscaped atmospheric courtyards offer a communal framework; space for the personal visions of the residents.
Reduced, high quality materials define the atmosphere of the interiors as well as the communal spaces. The façade functions as a sculptural exterior layer. Made of brownish grey water-struck clinker bricks, it wraps around the building structures and thus unites the auxiliary buildings and the solitaire into a coherent ensemble in terms of design. A clear structure of closed and open surfaces communicates subtle plasticity. Partial recessing in the form of loggias and regularly repeating brick reliefs bring additional structure and emphasise the sculptural qualities of the buildings. The changing play of light and shadow adds a lively touch to the architecture, which changes throughout the day.

The sizes, directions and floor plans of the apartments are designed to be varied so as to attract a varied range of residents to the quarter. “Life in the courtyards” mirrors the floor plan design of the 80 residential units. The layouts take in the full width of the building, offering views to all sides. Terraces and loggias as well as pergolas on the ground floors connect with outdoor areas. The recessed top storey reveals a wraparound roof terrace that is subtly divided into private areas with the aid of planted divisions, offering special views of Zürich and Ütliberg mountain.
The Grünhof-Areal was officially opened on 29 June 2021. To accompany the opening, Allreal is publishing a high-quality book on the building project with personal insights into the development and construction process.

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