MÄNNEDORF – Mehrfamilienhause is the newest addition to Zurich-based Hurst Song Architekten’s residential portfolio. The project’s name literally translates as ‘multi-family house’ and the design incorporates three separate apartments stacked around a central communal staircase. Set amongst an abundance of traditional village houses, the architects recognise the importance of respecting the character of the area, while creating something modern and fresh.
The core staircase with open plan living spaces wrapped around the perimeter creates a simple blockish volume. A hipped roof – a reinterpretation of the surroundings – plays with scale and context. The anodised and brushed aluminium cladding on the exterior is understated yet neat and refined. It has a modest quality that prevents it from overwhelming its neighbours, as corner windows create an understanding of size and scale between the interior and the adjacent buildings.
The overall appearance is one of simplicity and functionality. Inoffensive and easy on the eye, the central staircase certainly steals the show and provides an attractive centrepiece as more than a mere convenience for navigation. The vertical aluminium railing cleverly appears to heighten the space, as well as providing consistency between the external and interior aesthetics.
The internal palette is minimal. Simple use of exposed concrete surfaces, combined with oak panelling, create warmth and fluency throughout. Further fixtures are added only where explicitly necessary for functionality – the bathroom, for instance, features a crisp white suite – keeping the overall aesthetic limited and clean. One particularly effective element is the use of over-sized oak doors against the concrete walls; a detail which highlights the use of scale as a tool in the perception of space.