Max Dudler

Areal Giessen urban island . Meilen

Max Dudler . Areal Giessen urban island . Meilen  (1)

Max Dudler . photos: © Stefan Müller . + architecturelab

With a new residential structure on the eastern shore of Lake Zurich, architect Max Dudler sets out to prove that exclusive privacy and density don’t have to form a contradiction in housing development. 50 years after architects atelier 5 built the famous siedlung halen near bern, dudler presents a new architectural model to help counter urban sprawl in the countryside.


Just like the Siedlung Halen did back then, the “urban island” on the Areal Giessen site on Lake Zurich translates the village motif into a contemporary form. Ten houses with 34 freehold flats and up to eight commercial units were built in Meilen in total. Even though the design is clearly based on the countryside character of the place, its abstract, geometrical shape creates a dialectic tension with the surrounding landscape.

The residential units have been arranged densely on a narrow rectangular plot, forming an island in the landscape of Lake Zurich. The residential buildings have been arranged on the plot like on a chessboard and in a staggered order, so that all flats have a view of the lake. The terraces and staircases provide a range of different vistas on the lake.

The new residential site is characterized by its compact urban design and the interaction between narrow alleys and broad, semiprivate open spaces. A network of paths and streets as well as a small public square with sycamore trees at the center of the estate give the Areal Giessen site an urban feel. Above this square are the “pocket park” and a playground, which are accessible to all property owners.

This deliberate arrangement of public and private spaces also extends into the buildings. Different spatial layers within the flats, ranging from the private area of the bedrooms to the living and dining areas facing towards the south, provide a 180-degree view of the surroundings. The flats on the Areal Giessen site have sizes of up to 257 sqm and contain 2.5 to 7.5 rooms each. Every flat has its own individual, generously sized outdoor area facing to the south – either a roof-deck, a loggia or a private garden.

Beneath the buildings, hidden under the slope, there is a basement garage from which all flats can be accessed. Every building also has a separate entrance. Sustainability, good noise insulation, and accessibility as well as spacious elevators were important factors in the design process.

The facade design of the ten buildings takes up on the design concept of the “urban island”. A grid of large-size concrete stones forms a frame for broken natural stones and windows. This creates an exciting contrast between smooth and broken or between natural and artificial surfaces, which gives the residential development its typical character.

Location: Meilen, Zurich, Switzerland
Client: Baugesellschaft Giessen
Architects: Max Dudler
Project managers: Jörg Jakubczak, Henrik Mundorf (until 2011), Hans Kolbeck (until 2012)
Team: Florian Pischetsrieder, Lucyna Zawistowska, Maike Lausen, Markus Weissenmayer

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