<Studio houses Isteinerstrasse, Basel, 1997–2003


The 11 apartment buildings are located in the Theobald-Baerwald Gasse, a narrow lane in the courtyard of a Kleinbasel block that was originally laid out to provide access to small industrial businesses. Looking across the lane, the new houses face the older houses of the Blockrand development on Isteinserstrasse. On the other side, across a large, richly planted garden, the rooms of a recently constructed hotel can be seen at a distance.

At the heart of the design was the idea of organizing living and working in the houses in a variety of ways and giving spatial expression to the combination. The houses, built adjacent to each other, have one entrance on the lane and a second on the garden side. Both lead, if wished, to the ground-floor studio. A cascade of single-flight staircases runs the entire depth of the house and provides access to the next two floors, the top of which adjoins a balcony and a terrace. The ground floor can be used as a single large room, separate and independent from the activities on the upper floors, or in unity with the upper floors. The kitchen can be installed on the entrance level and on the upper level. Whether it is a studio or a living room, the lower and upper floors can be used by one user or by different users, coming from the interior or from the exterior. The first floor with the open front can thus become a distinct address.

The houses differ from the common pattern, where one type is repeated identically several times. The houses can be experienced as row houses, but also as independent ones. Overlaying their walls is partially a white color, a coat of paint, so that the white group of houses stands out from the other with plain walls. At the level of the roof terrace, partition walls without exception create a clear separation between the individual houses.

The play of contradictory features creates a peculiar intensity. The windows, cut almost oversized in relation to the overall mass of the facade surface, their irregular arrangement and the different contrasts of the glass to the wall surfaces lead to polyphonic effects of the almost flat facades, as if perceived at the same time from close and far away, creating different impressions that overlap.  

Date: 1997-2003
Client: Baukonsortium Stücki
Location: Isteinerstrasse 90-96A, 4058 Basel
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 2431m2
Programm: 11 units studio houses
General contractor: Batigroup, Basel
Landscape architecture: August + Margrith Künzel Landschaftsarchitekten

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