THE PUBLIC INTERIOR AND ITS POTENTIAL
A PROJECT ABOUT HOW WE WANT TO LIVE AND OUR CONFIDENCE IN THE CITY
The area of Thurgauerstrasse in Zurich is re-envisioned
as an ever-changing passage through interior worlds that
engage with their context in surprising and touching
ways. By establishing a connection between the isolated
public spaces in the office buildings along the street, they
begin to perform as an urban ensemble that sets a
starting point for future development.
The present condition of Thurgauerstrasse is characterised by the spatial consequences of market demands and privatisation. Lined up along the busy street, empty, oversized corporate headquarters and commercial parks wait silently for their demolition as profits dwindle and business stagnates. Within this sea of introverted, generic office buildings organized by typical plans lies an archipelago of representative interior halls and atriums. The hollow remnants of the corporate megalomania that produced them, their post-modern architectures suggest publicness while merely obliging consumption and respect for private property, suffocating any kind of freedom of use. In its sheer volume, this multitude of distinct, generous interiors has the potential to become the resilient backbone of an area on the verge of rapid transformation.
An assemblage of distinct spatial qualities and atmospheres emerges by the superposition of archetypal public interiors onto the smooth, ahistorical surface of capital. As a network of public islands connected by a continuous pathway, the interiors are re-interpreted to act as an interface between the existing urban fabric, new housing developments, and the changing commercial landscape.
Discovering and inventing new passages through the highly dispersed and fragmented area around Thurgauerstrasse, the human body re-engages with its diverse, heterogeneous surroundings. Conceived as a counter-proposal to the top-down, normative planning approach exemplified by the current ‚Gestaltungsplan’, this urban proposition defines a loose framework for new housing developments to grow into, an incomplete plan open for appropriation by the public. Leftovers of the corporate world become the starting point for a new way of living in the city.
„I didn‘t write anything. It was not about planning. It involved the provision of a kind of structure, within which things could happen.“
„I provide a framework, and then I let the frame- work go and things happen within the framework that are subject to chance, to interaction. These things are beyond my control.“
By opening the building’s representative hall up towards the sky, its controlled atmosphere is subverted by a process of slow material decay. Large-scale vertical rain gutters structure the space rhythmically, while the ground is shaped to form water pools of varying size depending on the rainfall. The ruin is historically grown and incomplete at once: a skeletal relic of a recent past open for future appropriation.
A series of high, vertical spaces are linked to form an interior sequence of diverse performative spaces throughout the building, culminating in a sweeping view of the surrounding territory.
A carpet of marble tiles extends into the streetfront lobby, luring the passer-by into an interior sequence of vast, lavish atriums. Through its system of large-scale curtains, the interior serves as the backdrop for a choreography of movement and event, an ennobling scaffold for representational ceremonies and spontaneous gatherings.
A large public ramp slopes from the main street into a transparent, homogenous interior, acting as a condenser of movement and play.
A plethora of possible activities and interaction overlap between the continuous floor surface and the vast ceiling that extend from one
side of the urban fabric to the other.
At the foot of a dense apartment building, the entrance is reimagined as a collective space on the threshold of public and private. A battery of shared storage space is forms a communal lobby as a mediating layer towards the street. The theater of everyday activity merges housing machine and sidewalk.
By making use of the office building’s controlled climatic environment, the public entrance hall is re-imagined as a lush tropical garden. A slim, vertical volume of conditioned air yields a serene atmosphere for thought, reflection, and study.
The sidewalk is extended upwards by escalators leading to a public canopy. On the first floor of the Airgate, a delicate, reflective roof hovers above a terrace, signaling openness and dynamism towards the street below.
Chair Adam Caruso
assistants Emilie Appercé, Benjamin Groothuijse
and Claudio Schneider
Chair Sander, Matthias Wermke
Joshua Guiness, Sarah Scherzer, Julius Fischötter,
Raphael Ridder, Manuel Lorz
website design: Sarah Scherzer
Terminology and historical references
taken from Mark Pimlott
Pimlott, M., 2016.
The Public Interior As Idea And Project.
1st ed. Jap Sam Books