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Azure Magazine November December 2022 Cover: The Residential Interiors Issue

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In Switzerland’s building code, one bicycle stand is often counted for each room in a house. According to Apropos Architects, this eco-conscious and urban-minded design ethos exemplifies the Swiss lifestyle. For its newest residential project, Residenz Eisenerz, the Prague-based studio took on a 1,022-square-metre multi-unit build that, despite its relatively modest footprint, makes an undeniable statement in the small town of Sargans.

Replacing a derelict house nearing the end of its life-span, the new property boasts five apartments, each with a unique view of the surrounding mountain peaks. Built of monolithic reinforced concrete, the complex makes for a remarkable yet deferential presence in the middle of the Sargans landscape. “The pinkish Verrucano-Schiefer stone, which is found in the local mountains, has become a reference for the materialization of the facade and interior spaces,” remarks the architecture studio.

Taking this inspiration literally, the firm used a mixture of cement plaster and pulverized stone extracted from the mountains to form the building’s exterior. Finished with scraped plaster, the loggias and receding facades provide shadow and light play — at dusk, the sunset makes the entire edifice glow pink, an intentional effect that further relates the new-build to its historic surroundings.

Inside, the materials used had to be particularly durable — to accommodate potential tenants — while remaining aesthetically attuned to the Sargans landscape. To this end, neutral colours and vast, smooth planes rule. Bespoke furniture made out of lacquered MDF boards is built-in throughout the apartments, providing a common design language for all. Terrazzo floors in the common areas add to the down-to-earth effect.

Staircases and elevators are located in the middle of the structure, to avoid taking away potential window space from the apartments — suggesting that private bathrooms and kitchens are as deserving of natural light as wider common spaces. Sculptural hallways between units benefit from intermittent pops of illumination in the form of rounded sconces and ceiling lamps, while black steel railings and elegant raw concrete contribute to the pared-back look.

Taking into account Switzerland’s ecological standards, the building maintains low-energy consumption through a ground source heating pump that serves as the main source of power throughout and is supported by a solar system on the roof. Gains from this source can be used in the building, or sold back to the grid.

With access to either a private terrace or balcony, each apartment also holds a literal connection to the outdoors, but it’s the communal garden on the ground level that sees the most use. Fostering familiarity and connection, the newly-appointed complex functions as a living organism, where residents can interact with each other. It’s a lifestyle touted by the architecture firm, and also by the client, whose friends and family now inhabit the complex.

And in the building’s adjacent garage, those who insist on using motor vehicles can find seven electric car charging stations — one less than the number of bicycle spots.

A Swiss Apartment Complex Inspired by its Alpine Setting

Residenz Eisenerz, a new rental project by Apropos Architects, gives an old property a new lease on life.

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