"Lors de mes vagabondages dans les verdures éternelles j'avais l'impression de lire l'univers et la forêt était pour moi la plus belle des bibliothèques."
L'enfant de vinci - Gonzague Saint Bris
Inspiration The Bamboo house, Kengo Kuma
The final project: The hidden nest (final model 1:10)
When we visited the project's location in Zurich, we felt the desire to create an intimate space, calm and with a touch of nature to contrast with the restless urban context of the site. We immediately thought that an interesting way to achieve this intimacy amongst the busy city would be to create our small garden several meters above the ground, as a sort of nest niched in the protostructure. This vision led us to create organic stairs, irregular and hidden, to access our secret garden.
In this way, gaining access to the garden becomes, to the pedestrian, a form of transition, of cleansing from the dirt and grayness of the city. The visitor should feel like he is climbing an urban tree to find a peaceful, natural space above the city. In order to guide the progress of our project and make it as powerful as possible, we have opted for an organic soil layer. The mix between moss and wood recreates a forest and nature feeling throughout the protostructure.
Moreover the security railings make this idea more powerful by filtering the light like a dense forest canopy would. This games of shadows and light is both created by and interacts with the protostructure, mimicking a forest. The wooden links intertwined with the security railings contribute to this effect and reinforce the structure. Another fundamental advantage of the structure's half hidden half visible internal space is its visual attractiveness to the wandering pedestrian. Indeed, the stairs and the nest are not entirely visible from the street, which tends to stir the curiosity. Seen from below, the structure reminds the pedestrian of a nest built with wood and moss and creates an interesting visual interaction between the tony areal and our project.
Prefabrication and security
For simplification reasons as regards the prefabrication, we have decided to build a module of stairs that we could easily repeat. Also, the dimensions of our security railings respect the safety norms and fit well together with the stairs.
Around the nest itself, we decided to add small stems of wood holding the security railings together both for security reasons - by strengthening the structure of the security railings and to comply with security norms - and for aesthetic reasons - in placing these stems according to an irregular pattern, we felt this would imitate the destructured yet harmonious feel of a forest.
We pursued to find a good balance between the symmetry of the structure, which makes the space more harmonious and serene, and its asymmetry, which contributes to the overall natural feel of the structure. This explains why we have played on different scales to highlight this ambiguous ambiance. For example, the modules of the stairs are irregular but the two stairs and the two platforms are symmetrical. We played with this pathway between the street and our nest to create the transitioning experience for the visitor .
The symetrical system between the platforms and the stairs
The irregularity of the stairs
The filtered transition
The hidden garden
We had decided on the dimensions to create an intimate place from the start. For constructability reasons, we wanted to simplify as much as possible the "green touch" in our hidden nest. Yet, we wanted to create an intimate and filtered atmosphere. Therefore, we settled on a topsoil of moss. This solution has several advantages. First, it does not need much upkeep as moss grows in the shadow and remains green and alive for periods of several months. To maintain humidity it is possible to place a geotextile felt under the moss.
Also, we were able to create an open ground above the moss so that visitors can walk over but still see the moss. Finally, the moss reminds the natural atmosphere of trees and keeps the inner room of the nest bare and sober, peaceful.
Interactions towards the outside of the protostructure, the rest of the site
We have manage to lower the height of our security railings in front of the Tony Areal so that a visual dialogue could be established between the people at the entrance of the Toni Areal and people ascending our stairs. In this way, we capture the attention of the pedestrians in the street but also of the students of the art school.
Moreover we have placed our project in front of the small green area so that the visual impact of the real trees from within the nest strengthens the forest feeling and the isolation during the visitors' experience.
The entrance of the Toni Areal
The green area in front of the Tony Areal
Round infrastructures with trees to instaure green spaces in the street