Building Values

Real estate is a tricky business. We rent and buy and sell and inherit it, but we also knock it down. Deborah Levy, Real Estate, 2021

Trust. A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or capacity of someone or something. A belief in the self, but also in the other. A state in which one might be seen as naïve and credulous, often leading to disappointments and failure, but that can equally be read as mature and looking for opportunities. Can one trust in something one does not yet fully understand? Can trust lead to following unexpected paths, not being afraid of encountering new ways of thinking and seeing?

Building value. Extensive new developments continue to happen across Zurich and its periphery, with Ersatzneubauten still presented as the most desirable option. Even when a significant built substance exists, revenue-driven development patterns usually end up prescribing its demolition and replacement. A gesture erasing existing users and uses at the same time, as those are rarely given a place in the planned developments. So how can we trust in the value of what is there? How can we learn from the existing to propose models for the future, a future capable of accommodating all the lives that can exist in the city, including the less profitable ones?

Regensdorf. This semester, after exploring Zurich and its surroundings twice by means of walking, we will inhabit a Dorf longing to be a Stadt. Next to the Regensdorf station, a real estate operation called ZWHATT plans 1000 new housing units, developed by Pensimo and designed by offices including Peter Märkli, Roger Boltshauser and Lütjens Padmanabhan. We will take a complementary and alternative look at the area. In collaboration with the diploma students reflecting on the new development, including its business plan and the types that it proposes, the studio will focus on an existing conglomerate of four buildings, investigating it as a potential candidate for re-use. Our discussions will focus on alternative typologies, architectural re-appropriation, economic models, and facade concepts. Together, those research tracks will take over the existing building, using it as a fertile ground for a polyphonic and grounded reflection on the future of Regensdorf.

Inhabitation. Your studio will be located on the empty fourth floor of an existing office building: 400 m2 at the very center of the future development. Moving in will allow us to engage with the day to day life of the buildings. It will make us complicit to what we design, to get close and personal, to potentially find presences and qualities that are often overlooked and only surface in the slowness of being-in-it-together. This will allow us to become a critical audience reflecting on the decision making strategies behind large scale developments in the Zurich agglomeration. With our concrete and situated knowledge gained by actively being there, we will reflect on alternative futures for the four existing buildings, challenging the tabula rasa approach, and the accompanying architectural interventions and strategies.

The Dept. of the Ongoing. The Dept. of the Ongoing will move in with us to install an open research room, host the lecture series You’re Not My Type and surprise us with other ghostly modes of exchange and interaction.

Building Out Loud. During an integrated seminar week, we will take it a notch up and use our building as a test site, producing 1:1 interventions, guided by the skilled carpenters of B4 Moebel and the practice of scenographer Jozef Wouters.