Performative House



The performative house by the Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin office will soon be ready for occupancy. Thanks to sliding and rotating components, high-quality living space is being created on a very small footprint at Stampfenbachstrasse in Zurich. Such solutions are highly interesting for us engineers.

The average living space per person in multifamily housing has risen continuously since 1960, while the supply of available building land is declining. The supply of affordable housing is particularly scarce in urban centers. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO), more than half of households lived in an apartment with more than two rooms per person in 2020. In Zurich, one-third of apartments are occupied by single households and one-third by couple households; only one in three apartments is occupied by a family or a multi-person community. The architectural firm Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin is tackling the question of how high-quality living space can be offered in a small area.  

High-quality housing concepts are in demand

To reduce land consumption, we need high-quality housing on a smaller footprint. There are several ideas for doing this. One approach, which has been increasingly seen in recent years, is the trend toward more shared spaces. Another option is floor plans that can be flexibly changed. The performative house on Stampfenbachstrasse in Zurich is a good example of this.

Stampfenbach Grundriss

With a cleverly placed revolving wall, the living space can be changed almost at will: Rooms can be divided, separated or connected. Revolving cabinets offer the same advantages as revolving walls and provide additional storage space. As a third performative element, there are pedestals, which also divide the space and offer a lot of storage space with large drawers and floor flaps. The goal of the architects is to create living space that requires almost no additional furniture.

Stampfenbach flexible Wände zoom

For unprecedented living flexibility, rotating wall panels and swinging closet systems are used to act as room dividers.

Movable components such as sliding walls, folding walls or revolving doors are not readily installed in architecture because they involve greater constructional effort and the components are susceptible to malfunctions. The mock-up at ETH Zurich was used to prototype and constructively refine such movable elements. More about moving components can be found in the report on the research work «vacancy - no vacancy» by the Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin office. 

Sound measurements on the mock-up  

The floor slabs and walls of the performative house are mostly constructed of cross-laminated timber panels. The wood is painted white in the apartments, leaving the wood structure visible. Thus, the construction is shown and at the same time forms a pleasant and modern living atmosphere. The cross laminated timber walls are load bearing and transfer large loads from the upper floors to those below. To prevent the wood from being compressed in the area of the support on the floor slab, so-called cross-laminated timber pressures, the loads are guided by a beech dowel with a diameter of 6 centimeters.

Stampfenbach Detail

Sound measurements and a 1:1 scale mock-up were used to ensure that the chosen construction method was a good one before construction began.

Today, there is still little experience with this new construction method. Therefore, the architects and engineers decided to build a 1:1 scale mock-up. This mock-up was used in particular to check how these beech dowels behave in terms of sound and to what extent the sound is conducted from one apartment to the other. In this way, it was possible to determine that the legal requirements for sound insulation between the apartments were ensured. Due to the very noisy Stampfenbachstrasse, the requirements for the facade are high (De 39 dB). With an exterior wall made of cross-laminated timber and acoustically decoupled exterior insulation, which acts as a facing shell, these requirements can be met.



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