Inhabiting is the most wonderful challenge of contemporary architecture.
Inhabiting implies pleasure, generosity, the freedom to occupy a space, beyond the functional.
It challenges us to think about the possibilities and capacities of the space around and ahead of oneself. Architecture is about building multitudes of situations of usage, connected and intersected. These situations are mobile and build the act of Inhabiting.
Designing architecture on the basis of the notion of Inhabiting means to construct space from the inside, and not from the outside as an indifferent and distanced act.
The space for living must be generous, comfortable, adaptable, flexible, luxurious and affordable. The dwelling must offer the inhabitant opportunities to move around, to appropriate space, offer freedom of usage to generate possibilities of evolution and interpretation. It is the aim, in every project, to create living spaces as big as possible, much more generous as the standards or the programs in general too small, too restricting.
A dwelling must offer extra space, as much extra space as programmed space. This extra space is a non-defined space, free for use. It is added to the traditional spaces of the dwelling or to the programmed space. The combination of both allows freedom and appropriation. Every dwelling must have a privative outside space, as a balcony, a terrace, a winter garden, which offers the possibility of living outside, of having a garden, like in a single house.
Large spaces bring a vital feeling of freedom. More space means building larger – twice more is the goal – with the same cost as the standard to be affordable for everyone. Enlarging does not mean wasting. It means inventing space, to create other possibilities, other freedoms, new ways of inhabiting.
Building double, for any program, to loosen the constraints, to loosen norms, to multiply the uses and foster appropriation and improvisation. Offering twice more space to each person is a necessary and an essential condition to any project of densification. A dwelling should give the same facilities as a villa.
The idea of luxury is therefore redefined in terms of generosity, freedom of use and pleasure. Inhabiting is neither norms, nor rules, nor the minimum. A maximum of pleasure, comfort and freedom on every floor.
Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal



Housing is the most important challenge for today’s society and therefore it is eminently political. It is at the same time the most beautiful and critical challenge for contemporary architecture. The dwelling is the measurement unit of the city and the factor for inclusion and a vital social life.

The high demand on housing puts pressure on the urban soil, existing structures, infrastructures, as well as on the secondary sector. The city of Zurich hardly has any land reserves left and a large part of railway track fields, industrial and logistic areas already gave way to housing developments. Inner densification of the existing is therefore the city’s answer. Demolition and construction (Wohnersatzbau) as well as reconstruction and extension of existing buildings (Bestandeserneuerung) are two main strategies of the city to densify its existing urban fabric with two clearly different effects on densification.

For a responsible and sustainable future of cities, community living and density are inescapable to confront with. Densification will only work if the individual finds better conditions of living. Densifying doesn’t mean to compress, compact or tighten the individual space, but to multiply the urban ground in order to create more space and more possibilities for each individual on a reduced terrain. Therefore, it is necessary to invent new housing typologies to readdress the attractiveness of living collectively in a denser city. This can only be done by creating an architecture that reconciles the collective need of density with the need of individuality and privacy, which is often expressed by the desire of single houses with a garden. The quality of housing for everyone is therefore the most crucial goal.

In this design studio we explore and define qualities of housing in urban cohabitation. From inside out, with feet on the ground, from the smallest to the largest, and valuing the already existing, we approach the occupied urban situation at Areal Neugasse. With new construction, reuse, refurbishment, transformation, adaptation and superimposition the students transfer their design objectives to architectural and spatial proposals of housing. Far away from masterplans, the range of fragments will form the coherent and entire design proposal on the site.

Final review: Tue, December 18 / 10 a.m.
Guests: José Maria Lapuerta, Caroline Ting, Barbara Zeleny


HS’18 Studio Poster