nestled in the swiss town of riehen, felippi wyssen architekten has completed the gatternweg apartment building. comprising of five separate residences over three storeys, the design appears like timber boxes stacked on top of one another, with the volumes getting gradually smaller as they reach the final level. in doing this, the new intervention serves not to impose on the landscape, but rather to fit well among the existing buildings.

all images © rasmus norlander

following the boundaries of the site, the footprint of the building is formed by the architect with an asymmetrical trapezium-shaped plan. on the ground and first floor levels, two apartments are programmed, while the third floor contains a single residence. with the pyramid-like effect of the overall massing, each level is provided with generous terraces covered by large overhangs. these outdoor spaces connect to the interiors, blurring the indoor and outdoor environment and bringing in floods of natural light.

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

the main entrance to the building

the exterior of the gatternweg apartment building is characterized by the blackened wood, which has been achieved using oiled spruce. this darker, muted appearance allows the new architecture to blend in with the surrounding greenery and helps give the impression that the building has been there for a long time. in addition to the black timber cladding, a structure of steel has been utilized, which can be seen exposed in places, such as structural columns that support the deep overhangs.

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

the black steel columns complement the blackened timber

exposed concrete and terrazzo tiles also feature in the chosen palette of materials and helps give the spaces a robust yet rich quality. details like the timber shutters also help root the design into its surrounding context of vernacular swiss architecture. overall, by employing a reduced massing and subtle materials, the apartments result in a contemporary, yet sensitive architectural expression.

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

overhangs create an external space that blurs the boundary between indoor and outdoor

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

the circulation stairwell

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

the black timber volumes nestled into the landscape

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

floor plan of the building

felippi wyssen stacks blackened timber volumes to build the gatternweg apartment in switzerland designboom

cross section through the apartment building

project info:

project name: gatternweg

location: riehen, basel, switzerland

architect: felippi wyssen architekten

status: realized 2019

area: 6,996.54 ft2 (650 m2)

year: 2016-2019

photography: rasmus norlander

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