Selective Competition, Biel, 2021
Weyell Zipse Architekten with Westpol Landschaftsarchitektur
„The common land has two specific social functions. First, the land makes it possible for people to feel comfortable outside their buildings and their private territory, and therefore allows them to feel connected to the larger social system (…). And second, common land acts as a meeting place for people.“
Alexander, C. (1977): A Pattern Language. Towns Buildings Construction. New York: Oxford University Press.
The emergence of a social community depends on many aspects. But one can say with certainty that it is directly dependent on the supply of spaces that are made available to the residents for this purpose. Places where people meet, either planned or by chance.
Two compact buildings form the simple basic structure of the urban structure. On General-Dufour-Strasse stands the five-story building of the GURZELENplus cooperative, in which all the apartments as well as public spaces, stores and restaurants are distributed. Opposite is the two-story building of the SIV Center Foundation. The urban setting creates a valuable, multifunctional open space between the two buildings that is also permeable to the public. An urban gap that becomes a central communal place for the residents of the foundation and the cooperative. Protected from the motorized traffic of the street, but at the same time open at both ends, this space is the interface and gateway to the neighborhood.
On the roof of the building on Blumenstrasse and connected to the court via two simple staircases, lies the second superordinate important outdoor space: a generous roof garden that can be experienced in many different ways and is used collectively, with planting gardens, community gardens and smaller seating areas. The 1600m2 roof landscape forms the heart of the collective life of the housing estate, and is available to the residents for appropriation, cultivation and contemplation.
Whether family living, cluster or residential community, the proposed apartment types have in common the central arrangement of communal spaces. This is where people cook, eat, play, discuss. When someone enters the apartment, he passes through these spaces; people greet each other, hug, sit down with them, get involved in a conversation, exchange information. The same happens when leaving the apartment. The living, dining and cooking area is the heart of any apartment, and thus supports the formation of community.