Situations where users intervene in the buildings out of their needs and become co-creators are the source and inspiration for the project. Where the built is being maintained, repaired, adapted, expanded and thereby appropriated. The interventions teach us to read the existing as unfinished and modifiable and to acknowledge it as a status quo in an ongoing process that is only possible to be preserved through change. They allow us to recognise how use and substance form a unity, which in their encounter produce spaces that can hardly be planned, whose values are barely considered in today's urban development and often replaced by Ersatzeubauten. They show us the potential of the productive spaces created by superimpositions, which also invite to be appropriated by future uses. The interventions have the power to question existing conventions through moments that appear unusual or contradictory and to promote an awareness of co-existence. We believe that such interventions are relevant to the urban scale as teachers, in search for a proposal to deal with our already dense urban environment.
Das Unfertighaus explores a strategy of Weiterbauen - amplified and accelerated - in order to re-evaluate the urban development in Zurich dominated by Ersatzneubauten. A strategy that relates to the city's almost depleted land resources and builds upon existing values instead of replacing them. A strategy in which engaging with the existing is understood as the premise in order to continue the story of a place and to collectively maintain and shape the city as a heterogeneous fabric of parallel existing realities. A strategy which mediates between the desire to preserve our built environment and the demand for densification and progress that the city faces.
As a representative example, we examine this approach in an area at the Sihlquai along 9 principles. The existing as its own reference and the examination of past and ongoing processes of the site are the starting point and resource of our work. Through the methods of adaptation, appropriation, reassessment, repurposing and sampling the existing is activated, reinterpreted and continued in a series of interventions. They are not meant to be read as ready-to-build designs, but as mediators seeking dialogue in the field of tension between keeping and changing and bringing together the already existing diversity with today's demands on the city. In doing so, we deliberately ignore existing conventions (such as Katasterplan, Besitzverhältnisse, etc.) in order to negotiate the validity and significance of these parameters.
The resulting spaces reveal possible futures that emerge from an understanding of the unfinished to become part of the existing and construct ongoingness.
Das Unfertighaus - Constructing Ongoingness is a free master thesis by David Roth and Ralf Schweizer at the Chair of Affective Architectures, ETH Zurich, Prof. An Fonteyne, Khensani de Klerk, Els Silvrants-Barclay, Pablo Donet Garcia, Galaad Van Daele in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Philippe Koch, ZHAW