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Fotograf: Christian Meixner

Alp 5
Residence, Basel

Auf der Alp is a one block long street at the edge of the Bruderholz where the city connects to agricultural land. The heart of the city is fifteen minutes away by bicycle. In the opposite direction, after a two-minute walk, the rusticity of the countryside, the colors of the agricultural fields, and even the smell of farm animals dominates the experience.

The house we were commissioned to renovate and extend, was built in 1931 as part of a development of repetitive mirrored single family homes built on two single lots sharing a median wall on one side, and a small garage on the opposite property line, mirrored with the next contiguous property. The plots of land of each single family home are very generous and naturally rich with vegetation and topographical changes. The original homes are all introverted, and offer no direct access to side and back yards. The only way to get to the open areas of the property is to go out through the front door, and around the house, next to the existing garage.

As the 21st century progresses, such a disconnection with a generously sized and beautiful garden, is not comprehensible. Perhaps the collective realization that we are losing nature, as we know it, has generated a nostalgic desire to interact with it while it lasts. Our addition to the existing house establishes a dialogue with the open areas in the property, by demolishing the garage, and extending the house in its location. The extension is lowered to the level of the garden introducing a sectional change within the ground level of the house. On the street side, it presents itself as an introverted wooden box with a base intended to store firewood in wintertime and a timber portico that shelters the arrival during unfavorable weather. On the garden side, the house and addition open up to the greenery and a new wooden deck.

The addition is built with shop fabricated timber panels protected by a cast in place concrete slab and base. The height limitation by the zoning regulation required the roof structure to be resolved with the thinnest layer possible in order to have a comfortable ceiling height. The solution is a roof system composed of CLT panels exposed on the inside, with an insulating layer and green roof assembly above. The occupiable area of the roof is finished with a wooden deck and a galvanized steel railing.