The complex is located in the eastern part of Broëlberg Park in a hollow between the old manor house and a villa built in the 1950s. Through variations in shape, height, and depth, the angled complex responds to the features of the site: the topography, the surrounding groups of trees, and the view to the lake.
The qualities and aspects of the site are reflected in a multitude of different apartment types. The structural cores for stairs, elevators, kitchens, bathrooms, and service installations define the living areas. These areas can be further subdivided with non-load-bearing walls, allowing individual arrangements ranging from traditional rooms to an open space.
Closely linked to kitchen and living room, the glazed loggias become focal points in the apartments. On the ground floor they access an outdoor patio and on the top floor large terraces. Shifts in the ground plan allow each apartment to face in several directions. The height of the rooms (2.70 m), the large horizontal openings with sliding windows, and the dark, solid oak floors throughout lend the apartments a sense of spaciousness.
Outside, the smooth, seamless, fairfaced concrete enhances the volumetric presence of the building. Its orange-red tone, pigmented with iron oxide, complements the saturated green of the surroundings in summer and harmonizes with the dark brown of the bare trees in winter. The color scheme was developed in close collaboration with Harald F. Müller. The windows with their dark brown anodized aluminum frames reinforce the twofold reading of the façade as a grid or perforated wall.
An elongated lobby provides access to the building and leads to two sets of stairs with an elevator serving each. Along one side of the hallway the color of the façade continues on the inside and is additionally accentuated through the windows, which are mounted flush with the exterior and have an orange-red painted frame on the interior. The green of the park and the orange of the façades are reflected in the lacquered, natural concrete wall opposite. The worked surfaces of the lobby and staircases mediate between the colorful exterior façades and the white plaster walls in the apartments. Lamps placed alternately in the ceilings and walls complement the effects of space, material, color, and light.
The land around Broëlberg manor house consists of a 57,000 square meter park bordering onto open landscape in the community of Kilchberg. The land was zoned for single family houses and the initial project called for single storey detached homes, which would have entailed the development of the entire site. An alternative plan was devised in which controlled density of the inhabited plots made it possible to preserve the parkland character of the premises.
Six sites were selected – within clearly defined boundaries – for the construction of concentrated, volumetrically distinct three storey buildings with varying concepts of habitation; Broëlberg I was constructed in 1996.
The beautiful location with an unobstructed view of the Lake of Zurich, the countryside and the old town of Kilchberg, as well as the price of the land and the tax advantages of Kilchberg clearly predestined the site to accommodate high quality apartments.
A base, which is mainly used for parking, connects the three buildings to form one volumetric whole. The base itself forms a raised courtyard or podium which provides the entry areas for the buildings. Two of the buildings each accommodate four apartments and a penthouse, the third consists of a row of four units. In most of the apartments, the kitchen and dining area face the podium while the living room with its projecting conservatory and the bedrooms are orientated towards the landscape.
The podium itself – a large surface of poured concrete slabs, glass bricks and gravel – is subdivided into a public access area and semi-private outdoor seating by means of pavilion-shaped steel structures with plywood planking.
Large windows, like huge eyes, are indicative of the luxurious setting, as they afford a magnificent view of the lake and the surrounding parkland. The windows have no external bars or railings. A broad aluminium frame, somewhat like a cornice, encases the blinds, guide rails and wooden window frames. The free distribution of the floor-to-ceiling openings responds to the different types of apartments. The aluminium clad facades of the penthouse apartments are set back to allow the creation of roof terraces. The main facades consist of masonry with exterior insulation and a fine, evenly coloured stucco that encases the building like a smooth skin.
The dark brown of the outside walls enhances the volumetric appearance of the structure, evokes ploughed fields, tree trunks and anonymous agricultural buildings, and also establishes a connection with the soft, organic structure of the facade. In close collaboration with the artist Harald F. Müller, the brown tone was selected and juxtaposed with the light orange walls of the courtyard, generating intense colouring in this space that varies with changes in the natural light. The orange and brown tones are related: brown being a darker form of orange, and orange being a brighter form of brown. The colours are mutually intensified where they meet at the edges of the buildings, while their effect on flat surfaces is extremely distinctive. The brown tone has a calming, integrating, natural, reserved and yet handsome feel to it as opposed to the shrill, artificial, alien, and blissfully beautiful feel of the orange. The glazing reflects the landscape, the surrounding buildings and the sky, while the finely grained coloured stucco has a matte appearance. These two opposites result in an interplay, which reacts intensely to different light conditions.