Can we apply the “Einfach Bauen” (Build Simply) approach to create structures that are more sustainable and use resources more sparingly? To what extent does a holistic approach foster attractive buildings that are more efficient and, at the same time, more diverse? The “Einfach Bauen” concept is a set of guidelines developed by the city of Zurich that take into account all the different phases of a building’s life, enabling intelligent designs to be produced in line with people’s needs.
Five basic guidelines have been drawn up that need to be elaborated upon and fleshed out with each individual project idea: I) Build only what you actually need; II) Solve problems architecturally; III) Build in line with the life cycle of the building; IV) Build with minimal technology; V) Take responsibility for what you build.
The two-part competition for building the new changing rooms at Juchhof 3 served the city as a pilot project for demonstrating how to apply this process in innovative architectural approaches and to enable the insights derived from the planning process to be transferred to other urban projects. The changing-room building is part of the Juchhof sports facility in the Altstetten district of Zurich, which, together with Juchhof 1 and 2, is already host to twenty-two football clubs and 102 teams. The need for additional capacity and the poor condition of the old structure meant a new build was necessary to house twelve changing rooms and showers, infrastructure rooms for coaches and referees, a foyer, and three standard artificial grass pitches.
The design envisages a building without exterior walls that signals openness on all sides. The shower units are arranged back-to-back and the areas where demand for warmth and screening is highest are situated in the middle, according to the onion principle. These areas are surrounded by a protective ring of changing rooms with outward-facing entrances and seating niches that encourage social interaction. This arrangement means that access routes, which are designed as outdoor spaces, are not part of the heated volume. (Guideline I)
The building is situated in the northwest corner of the property and uses the natural topography to ensure protection against flooding and level access to the site. A raised spectator terrace with seating steps offers a view over the playing fields and forecourt. The building section and floor plan of the single-story unit have been kept deliberately simple, allowing for direct access to all rooms, while catering to a very simple fire protection concept; natural lighting and ventilation are provided by skylights. (Guideline II)
The robust, low-maintenance construction with its tried-and-tested materials is intended to enhance the service life of the building and has static and thermal properties that are optimally adapted to its use. Solid, untreated timber elements are envisaged for the construction of the roof and the exterior and changing-room walls. The dividing walls in the interior wet areas will be brick-built, while the floor slab and foundations will be made of waterproof reinforced concrete offering a high heat-storage capacity. The design’s archetypical barn form not only works with tried-and-tested, durable construction methods but also creates a low-key sense of intimacy and familiarity. (Guideline III)
The building services are reduced to the essentials and are transparent in terms of their function and use. Power is supplied by a PV system on the roof and ventilation is natural. (Guideline IV)
The interplay of simple solutions gives rise to a building whose form and construction reflect a no-nonsense approach. Displaying a high degree of ecological, economic and social quality, the building can be used and maintained in a resource-efficient way throughout its life cycle. (Guideline V)