0251 Eichendorff Area:
Development of a New Residential Quarter


location
Kassel
year
2017
activity
Competition
client
GWG - Gemeinnützige Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH
size
--
budget
--
architect
Muck Petzet Architekten
team
Muck Petzet
Erik Jurisevič


Existence and Identity / Energy and Sustainability / Affordability and Economics

We see several fundamental contradictions in the competition brief:

- For the construction of the Eichendorff Quarter, the building of the former school is to be demolished. Yet, at barely 40 years old, it is a well-preserved, robust, versatile, and generous reinforced concrete structure.
- On the one hand, the history of the area is to be erased, but on the other hand, the new quarter should convey a special identity.
- The demolition of the building releases a considerable amount of embodied 'grey' energy, but at the same time the new quarter is supposed to be energy-efficient and an example of ecologically-sensitive design. However, newly erected buildings on a demolition site already bring a big ‘backpack’ of wasted energy into their new life cycle.
- The new quarter should offer flexible, open floor plans and unconventional housing typologies. Yet, 60% of the living space is to be developed in a 'developer model', which past experience has proven results in more conventional housing typologies.
- The new living space should be affordable and barrier-free financially. With the demolition of the existing building, valuable financial resources are destroyed and profit margins are increased through the developer model. Both make the end product more expensive.

Our project proposal resolves these programmatic, energetic, social, and financial contradictions as much as possible, as follows:

The 'Eichendorff' Building Association

We suggest to keep the existing school building, but reduce the structure to its shell. Gutting the building would be necessary also in case of the planned demolition. The grey energy of the existing building is reused, while a large part of the energy for material extraction, production, and transport of new components is avoided.

Maintaining the existing structure could create truly affordable, innovative, and flexible-use living spaces for a new, large residential community. Instead of the 'developer model', we propose a 'building community model' that promotes and empowers the diverse community of residents from the start of the building process. Similar to the Zurich housing association Kalkbreite, it can function according to its own laws and manage itself, which also makes it inherently more resistant to gentrification dynamics. By using the existing building, other economic models become imaginable, like 'self-fitted apartments', gradual expansion over a longer period of time, and the application of different standards for different living situations. The lack of barriers both financially and spatially, in addition to high quality of life standards, will attract an inclusive mix of diverse residents. At the same time, this community-based living model offers the desired social ‘centre' with overarching uses and numerous points of contact for encounters and community-building that radiate throughout the neighbourhood.

We envision innovative community-based housing that combines living, working, and community activities. The generous supply of open space enables vegetable growing close to home, with sales of fresh produce and locally made gastronomic delicacies. The generous open spaces inside the structure make it possible to operate a day care centre, creating an integrated life school in the middle of a residential building. The total of relatively small individual units have almost the same number of square meters as the communal areas.

Within the wide-span concrete structure, small units can be flexibly separated or interconnected. Moreover, very different living models can be implemented within the units. The spacious, continuous access areas are enlivened with atria and special functions that enable complete barrier-free access to all residential units with just one elevator.

By continuing to use what is already there, a continuity is created with the history of the Eichendorff site and a special identity emerges. The bulkiness of the existing building leads to unconventional and spacious solutions that would not be affordable in a new building. For example, the ceilings are unusually high with approx. 3.70m, which makes it possible to insert loft beds or extra storage space.

By using the existing building mass, which is concentrated in the middle of the property, a 100% of the tree population can be preserved. The existing special buildings and pavilions offer the potential for appropriation and further communal use. Paths, streets, and parking lots can also largely continue to be used.

The parking is verifiable via the existing parking spaces. In the spirit of sharing, the building association will also share means of transport. A small part of the money saved by not demolishing and rebuilding, can be invested in an intelligent booking system for transport and other shared infrastructure (e.g. tools, household machines, etc.).

Urban planning

In the existing heterogeneous urban environment, our proposal for keeping large-scale structures based on a uniform grid fits well. A nature-oriented quarter can arise here, which aligns with the best interpretation of 'modern' ideals, providing a direct connection between architecture and nature, urban development and landscape. We deliberately suggest a strong concentration of building masses in order to preserve as much green space as possible. To achieve this, we think the eight-story apartment building type is very compatible. The diagonal alignment in relation to the cardinal points makes it possible to avoid any spaces with exclusive exposure to the North.

Other typologies

In addition to the building association in the former school, we propose a robust and proven type of point house, based on the 'hip-house' of our colleagues at Atelier Kempe Thill in Rotterdam. In keeping with the existing ‘serial’ construction, we are recommending to entrust our colleagues with the further development of the already proven typology of construction. This point house is designed for the conventional construction of rental apartments with different types of apartments, and the integration of different kinds of residents. Another typology we introduce, is a long row of terraced houses with narrow, ultra-compact, 3-story homes.

Although the school building can be converted in sections, it would be best to do it in one go. The proposed additions using lightweight wood construction could potentially be implemented later. However, the apartment building and the terraced houses can be realized completely independently of the building community in terms of planning and construction.

Energy Infrastructure and Sustainability

The connection to district heating is probably the cheapest and most sustainable energy supply, because existing lines can continue to be used. With the financial resources saved using the existing building, it is possible to invest, for example, in a solar system built in Spain which is considerably more efficient than if it were built on-site. In this way, self-generated electricity can be obtained from renewable sources. The urban food production in the gardens, as well as the shared mobility and tools, lead to a further reduction in the CO2 footprint of the residents in the new neighbourhood.

Outdoor Spaces

The tree population remains intact almost entirely, with only a small amount of new saplings due to the two new buildings. The existing routing and spatial relationships are retained. The terraces in front of the school and the parking lot can be used as a marketplace, while in the open green spaces will be directly allocated for private use through a garden bed booking system similar to the Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin. The existing northern pavilions can be used as a garden restaurant in summer while strengthening the relationship with the river.

We believe that the Eichendorff quarter we propose would be applauded by the Mr. Eichendorff, a romantic nature-lover at heart, while providing a future-oriented and sustainable model of community-powered urbanism.



Imprint:

Muck Petzet Architekten

Architekt BDA Dipl.-Ing. Muck Petzet
Landwehrstrasse 37
D - 80336 Munich
E-mail: sekretariat(at)muck-petzet.com

The architect Muck Petzet is member of
the Bayerische Architektenkammer
(Bavarian Architects Association),
Waisenhausstraße 4, 80637 Munich,
membership no. 172838.

The authorisation to use the professional
title "architect" arises from the inclusion
in the architects′ list of the Bavarian Architects
Association. The architect Dipl.-Ing
Muck Petzet is subject to the legislation
and professional regulation of the Bavarian
Architects′ Law (BayArchG). The text of
the BayArchG can be read on the homepage
of the Bavarian Architects Association
www.byak.de.

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