Ur­ban­ism A multi-use pav­il­ion in Zurich, built by 200 stu­dents, is all about col­lab­o­ra­tion

An ar­chi­tec­tural in­stal­la­tion in Zurich in­volv­ing hun­dreds of stu­dents in its cre­ation fos­ters a di­a­logue with and about the city


HOUS­TON TURNED two park­ing lots into a vi­brant park­land called Dis­cov­ery Green. A for­mer high­way viaduct thread­ing through the heart of Seoul is now the kilo­me­tre-long Sky­gar­den, seeded with more than 200 dif­fer­ent na­tive tree and plant species. And Toronto is work­ing on re­vi­tal­iz­ing land un­der­neath the Gardiner Ex­press­way to cre­ate a recre­ational zone called the Bent­way. For many cities deal­ing with den­si­fi­ca­tion and the need to im­prove res­i­dents’ qual­ity of life, re­ac­ti­vat­ing un­der­used ur­ban spa­ces has be­come a cre­ative op­por­tu­nity.

This summer, pro­fes­sor Di­eter Di­etz of the ALICE lab­o­ra­tory at Ecole Polytech­nique Fédérale de Lau­sanne chal­lenged 200 first-year ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents to col­lec­tively en­vi­sion, build and pro­gram a 240-me­tre, multi-use struc­ture to tem­po­rar­ily oc­cupy the area be­neath a rail viaduct in down­town Zurich. The re­sult­ing open-lat­tice wood con­struc­tion – pre­fab­ri­cated by the stu­dents in Lau­sanne, then shipped and as­sem­bled on site – fea­tures un­du­lat­ing, in­ter­con­nected floors for var­i­ous kinds of pub­lic gath­er­ings. These in­clude tours by the ar­chi­tects, con­certs, plays, a sound in­stal­la­tion and screen­ings. From the bar at one end to the out­door theatre at the other, the de­sign cap­tures the team’s de­sire to avoid “ho­mo­ge­neous ar­chi­tec­ture” at a time when city populations are in­creas­ingly het­ero­ge­neous.

Con­cep­tu­ally, House 2 takes its in­spi­ra­tion from so­ci­ol­o­gist Richard Sen­nett’s 2012 book, To­gether, about the pol­i­tics of co­op­er­a­tion. Through­out the process, Di­etz put the em­pha­sis on col­lab­o­ra­tion, call­ing on stu­dents to think about how we ne­go­ti­ate so­cial dif­fer­ences in our daily lives. “Ev­ery­one in­volved con­trib­uted ideas, their val­ues, their en­ergy,” says Di­etz of a team that in­cluded ar­chi­tects, sci­en­tists and doc­toral can­di­dates. “There must be space for dif­fer­ence in our so­ci­eties. That idea is lived and trans­formed into built form with House 2.”

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