Row house
Flamatt I & II
Atelier 5 | Flamatt, Switzerland | 1957 & 1960
Image of Flamatt I ...
Flamatt I, south facade

ProjectFlamatt I & II
ArchitectAtelier 5
CityFlamatt
CountrySwitzerland
AddressNeueneggstrassse, at RxR tracks and grain elevator
Building TypeRow house
Number of Dwellings10
Date Built1957 & 1960
Dwelling Typesrow houses
No. Floors3-4
Section Typerow houses
Exterior Finish
Materials
concrete, wood, glass, metal
Construction TypeRC bearing walls, RC frame
Ancillary Servicesgarage

These two buildings were designed shortly after Atelier 5 was founded in 1955 and incorporate themes derived from the work of Le Corbusier. They also introduce a rich pallet of ideas that reoccur and evolve throughout the firm's work over the next 50 years. Although designed 3 years apart, these two blocks of row houses along with a detached garage form a village-like ensemble in a private, wooded site on the edge of the town of Flamatt. The village notion evident here is later applied on a much larger scale in the firm’s more famous Siedlung Halen housing at in Bern of 1960. This is a reoccurring theme in several other A5 housing developments as well. The use of different types of row houses here anticipated the later variations of the type which appear at Halen, Park Hill Village, the experimental designs for the Lima housing competition, two very complex groups of row houses at Thalmattt, and other later projects extending up into the 1990’s and 2000’s such as the Bodenacher development in Bern of 2000. In addition to the row house typology other thematic features define a distinct A5 manner. These features include the use of in situ concrete, pilotis, brise-soleil (sun breaker), grass roofs, roof terraces and balconies, the use of pre-cast concrete technology in the later projects, an emphasis on landscaping including green roofs, a concern for absolute privacy, and the use of repetitive forms and details that create a strong sense of order but still allow for great variety.

Both buildings contain narrow, deep, 2-3-story row houses. There are 6 dwellings in the first building that faces south while the later group of 4, 2-story dwellings is sited to the north. Both buildings are raised on pilotis and have roof terraces. Stairs in the pilotis connect to the dwellings above. There are several variations of the typical apartment, but the basic arrangement is a long narrow unit with kitchen and living spaces on the first level and bedrooms above with both levels terraced on the south in a developed brise-soleil. The easterly dwelling in the later building has more expansive 2-story high spaces and opens as well to a third level on the roof that is used as a gallery, studio, and roof garden complete with a raised canopy. This apartment terraces to the east and because of the much more complex volumetric development of the corner takes on the three dimensional qualities of a vertical tower organization and thus can be seen a precedent for other A-5 housing forms such as Brunnadern (1970) in Bern, for example. Instead of the small entries and service spaces used in the north part of the pilotis in Flamatt I, exterior metal stairs are used in Flamatt II to gain access to the first floor of the apartments above.

It is tempting to see these buildings as fragments of a unité that have been that assembled on this lovely wooded site as model apartments for a much larger building. The evolution of the row house morphology from Flamatt 1 to II can be seen in the more expansive development of the west end of the building The obvious Corbusian syntax, however, is tempered by a unique ability to adapt this basic pallet of materials and details to suit a variety of housing design situations and opportunities. These buildings are now more than fifty years old but remain in prime condition, a testament to the longevity and durability of A-5 designs.

Adler, Florian, Hans Girsberger, Olinde Riege, Architekturführer Schweiz, Artemis, Zurich, 1978.

Architecture + Urbanism, Dec. 1971, pp. 50-56.

GA, No. 23.

Atelier 5, Ammann Verlag, Zurich, 1986, pp. 45.

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