The residents of the Patio Building Project in Rheinfelden, Switzerland live compactly, and with an inward orientation. The building density in the neighborhood and lack of distant views inspired the architects to design a several-story patio house. Perforated cement composite panels serve to break up the façade.
Michael Hanak When Hansruedi Mergenthaler sold his construction business Rheinfelden due to his advanced age, he decided to build homes on the original factory grounds. The neighborhood, which is close to the center, had been in upheaval for several years: the new large structures holding a great number of flats benefit from the proximity to the city of Basel and the Rhine. The property owner trusted his daughter Lea Mergenthaler with the design. Together with Miriam Braun, she runs the architectural office raum.werk.plus in Lucerne.
The architects contemplated: What type of building is most appropriate nowadays for a private residence? Many home owners want a place of retreat, an individually designed building, and as much space as possible. In a residential area that is becoming increasingly more densely settled, the architects decided that patio houses offer a solution.
The project consists of three buildings with a square-shaped outline and three storys each: two townhouses one with two units, and one with three and a maisonette building. The walls of the townhouses are made of thermo-concrete, which is left visible on the façades and in the patios. The maisonette building is clad with white cement composite panels: on the first floor is a doctor’s office with three maisonettes above. The courtyards are located on the top or second from the top story, at a different position in every flat. Different sized wall sections produce targeted lines of sight and viewing relations: into the Jura woods and in the range of nearby hills, but also to the gardens in the neighborhood.
Since all courtyards in the maisonette building border on a façade, the architects decided to use back-ventilated façades with external thermal insulation rather than thermo-concrete. White, perforated Swisspearl panels are hung before them. They cover the building like a fine shell – as semi-transparent as mesh, as light as a cloth, and nonetheless as protective as a filter. The perforation continues the theme of limited opening and permeability. And in the courtyards, a play of light and shadows arises. The perforated panels before several bathroom and toilet windows also provide light directed inward and views outward. The perforations measure 25 and 35 millimeters in diameter and are arranged in two groups, which are mirrored once again. The selected arrangement keeps the montage-base free and guarantees the necessary protection. The patios provide the flats with protected exterior living spaces, bring light into the building, and enable views out into the neighborhood. Large sliding doors connect the patios with the interior living spaces.
The Patio Building Project juxtaposes the living units together with the courtyards. In doing so, it achieves a site-specific solution: individual living with high quality exterior space in the densely settled neighborhood.
In addition to flexibility in terms of the size of the house, the ground plans also enable great flexibility in planning and use.
Lea Mergenthaler, architect
Alongside the patios within the buildings,
a private exterior area similar
to a yard surrounds the three buildings.
Jürg Zimmermann, Zimmermann Fotografie, Zurich, Switzerland
Mergenthaler Corp., Rheinfelden, Switzerland
Salm Fassadenbau Corp., Schinznach-Dorf, Switzerland
SWISSPEARL perforated, PLANEA white P 111