This article first appeared in BTS Issue 4.

Sustainable Design Option Studio: The module builds upon and continues the Architectural Core Studio sequence. Each option studio culminates in a speculative final project that will articulate architecturally specific positions regarding sustainable design in real world projects.

By Benjamin Chong Mun Choen, Senior (Class of 2020)
Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD)

Daylightful Mixity was one of the ASD Sustainable Option Studios offered last fall, conducted by visiting Swiss instructors Marilyne and Igor Andersen. I was one of thirteen students who had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland as part of the studio to learn about Swiss architecture and our project brief, a yet-to-be-built spatial formalisation of the main entrance of blueFACTORY, an emerging zero-carbon innovation district.

Before the start of the actual study trip, a group of us visited Lucerne, a town south of Zürich known for its picturesque riverside and mountains. We later joined the rest to visit Zürich, Basel and Fribourg.

Morning trek up the Lucerne mountainside
Transitlager, Basel by BIG, an adaptive reuse of a railway warehouse

Switzerland has one of the most overlooked collections of modern architecture, juxtaposed against historical buildings. The Swiss are known for their high level of workmanship, from the material and building finishes, to even their roads and pavements. The country is also increasingly recognised for its successful government efforts to encourage sustainable building construction by using renewable, local timber and minimising energy usage. We were fortunate to have lead architects as our guide for many buildings we visited, which gave us a unique insight to their design process. We visited sustainable zero-energy buildings, repurposed warehouses and milk factories, as well as several cooperative housing projects, the Swiss take on affordable social housing.

Kalkbreite Cooperative housing, Zürich, constructed on top of an operational tram yard
Incredible sunset in Fribourg, on the last evening of our trip

The last day of our trip was to our project site in Fribourg. Our studio aimed to question the evolving working and living typologies through programmatic mixity and sustainable systems. At the end of the studio, our designs would be presented to blueFACTORY, who also covered much of the trip expenses.

Asklepios 8 in Novartis Campus, Basel, by Herzog & de Meuron

The best part of the trip was being able to visit the Novartis Campus in Basel, guided by Marco Serra, master planner for the project. Novartis is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, and visits to the Basel campus are very restricted. Not only were we allowed inside the campus, but we also walked through many of the buildings, designed by world-renowned architects, from Herzog & de Meuron and David Chipperfield, to SANAA and Frank Gehry. With Marco as our guide, listening to his stories behind each building added even more insight to what was already a unique experience.

Toni Areal, Zürich, by EM2N, an educational mixed-use center in a refurbished milk bottling factory

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