Naturally made of wood
Modestly colorful, practical and car-free, this how the new housing estate "Im Eich" in the Swiss community of Gossau in the Zurich Oberland region presents itself. Cows and goats are grazing in the nearby meadows, and yet it takes just over half an hour to reach the Zurich main railway station from this point.
Colourful areas to meet people
The nine buildings with a total of 87 rented flats follow the topography of the gently inclined slope at different levels, creating a configuration based around semi-public courtyards that have been arranged in a variety of ways. From these courtyards, the two, three and five-room flats are accessible through arcades which, as additional outdoor spaces, are intended to enrich the living environment and promote social gatherings. "The high density demanded an exploration of how we define public and private, community and individual. The inner courtyard serves as a communal area for the residents," explains Urs Schwab from Dachtler Partners Architects. "The balconies that face the inner courtyard, which are accessed via open staircases, are both access areas where people can communicate with each other and attractive outdoor seating areas. They form the equivalent to the private loggia of each flat.”
As they face two or three different directions, the flats offer attractive views of the surrounding natural environment. A differentiated colour scheme strengthens the character of the development as a whole and at the same time integrates the houses into the landscape. The colour palette is stylistically derived from nature, with fresh, harmoniously coordinated yellow and green tones. It gives the area an identity and a modern appearance.
Thanks to a smart layout of the underground garage in the pedestal under the residential buildings, the estate is car-free.
The aim was to create comfortable rented flats for the different stages of life, a mixture of the generations is expressly desired. The different sizes of the flats between 2.5 and 5.5 rooms and from 65 m2 to 129 m2 allow a wide range of potential users. All of the flats are designed to meet the needs of the elderly and have no thresholds. In addition, the estate offers a total of 18 rentable hobby rooms.
The buildings comply with high structural and technical standards in terms of comfort and energy consumption. The solar panel system on the roofs generates around 50 % of the electricity required by the flats. They are heated using a geothermal heat pump.
The quality of the materials that have been used has also been taken into account. "All of the building materials have been chosen with a view to ecological and sustainable construction, which fits in with the character of a car-free development in a rural community," explain the architects. "We chose wood as a typical façade cladding for the region, because it integrates the houses into their surroundings and establishes a relationship with the people.”
The façade with sawn timber cladding forms an ideal base for the paint technology used in the KEIM Lignosil mineral wood coating system. Theo Schaub, owner of the company Schaub Maler AG, was involved from the outset in the decision-making process for the façade construction by the client, architects and site management team.
"Almost ten years ago, our company was closely involved in the initial development of KEIM Lignosil as a long-term user of a large number of Keim products," explains Theo Schaub. "The requirement to apply a, durable and therefore sustainable coating with no biocides or solvents clearly spoke in favour of using KEIM Lignosil. In addition, there is the permeability of the system and the differentiated, appealing colour palette".
Together with the carpenter, Schaub defined the base surface and, in partnership with KEIM Switzerland, he developed the paint structure and the tender documents.
Various façade samples coated with KEIM Lignosil served as the basis for the decision. The mineral matt, non-fade appearance, the robust surface with its high resistance to weather and light as well as the expected longevity were the deciding factors for KEIM Lignosil. Alternative designs with "pre-greying" glaze, oil paint or another covering paint system were no longer considered.
The total façade area came to 14,000 m2. The facade material was primed twice on all sides with KEIM Lignosil Base and the front side was coated once with KEIM Lignosil in the basic façade colour. Theo Schaub: "We were on site throughout with five to six employees. After painting, the final coating was applied with the roller and then spread evenly across the surface. Thanks to the brush structure achieved by doing this, it was possible to preserve the wood structure of the rough sawn boards, which would have been severely disturbed by the just using a roller. The handling properties of the material are very good, the paint can be applied "smoothly", has a very good covering power, dries quickly and, with its matt fabric surface, it has an extremely attractive visual quality".
Thinking in generations
As a craftsman and businessman, Theo Schaub has a traditional approach, so he thinks in terms of quality and not warranty periods: "KEIM guarantees the service life of the coating system for 10 years. However, this does not mean that these wooden façades are now just left to the sun, wind and weather. Regular checks and regular maintenance contribute to the sustainable preservation of the building fabric. If it becomes apparent that individual parts of the façade are particularly highly exposed and so require renewal of the paint, this is carried out. However, we assume the same renovation cycle as for any other mineral façade, i.e. 20 to 25 years. We think in generations".
This is because the highest quality guarantees the added value of longevity. And in the long term, this guarantees not only appreciating the appearance, but also in getting the benefit from your investment.
The cows and goats seem to have quickly adapted to the colourful buildings and the many new residents. With its restrained yet colourful practicality and simplicity, the area radiates some of the values for which Switzerland is known: Reliability and durability.
Text by: Susanne Mandl