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Caruso St John: Beyond the UK

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The practice presents 10 key projects it is working on, or has recently, completed across Europe

Welfenstrasse Housing, Munich, Germany

Welfenstrasse Housing, Munich, Germany

Welfenstrasse Housing, Munich, Germany

Caruso St John won this commission for housing in the south of Munich in an invited competition organised by the city. The project is part of the redevelopment of the Paulaner Brewery site, where a number of architects will design parts of the masterplan. The 36,000m² new building on Welfenstrasse will provide 300 apartments for both private sale and social tenants, along with a creche, kindergarten and retail units on the ground floor. The site is being developed by the Munich-based housing developer Bayerische Hausbau.

The new building of six storeys, rising in parts to eight storeys, forms a large city block, giving a clear definition to the surrounding streets and enclosing a large courtyard with a park landscape. The facade along Welfenstrasse follows the shallow curve of the street, and is also shaped with shallow bays that reflect the organisation of the apartments around regularly spaced stair and lift cores. The street level entrances, and the facades in green render above, have been carefully designed to give this large building a scale and detail that is appropriate to the proportions of the street. The internal cores lead to shared roof terraces, and all apartments have balconies on to the quieter side of the courtyard.

The project has been submitted for outline planning approval, and a detailed planning application will be made later in 2015.

Expected completion date: 2018

Europaallee Baufeld E, Zurich, Switzerland

Europaallee Baufeld E, Zurich, Switzerland

Europaallee Baufeld E, Zurich, Switzerland

This urban building has a floor area of 30,000m² and contains housing, retail and offices. The project is located on a key site within the masterplan by KCAP Architects & Planners for the redevelopment of former railway land on the south side of Zurich Hauptbahnhof by the SBB (Swiss National Railways). The project is one of several large new buildings to be constructed along the planned Europastrasse, a street running through the centre of the masterplan leading south-west from the station. Other buildings in the masterplan were designed by Max Dudler Architekt, Gigon/Guyer Architekten and David Chipperfield Architects.

The programme for the site is unusually mixed with retail space on the ground floor and both offices and apartments above. The differing demands and scales of this range of different uses helped to generate a truly metropolitan building at a prominent corner location. Arranged with five floors of commercial space on the lower levels, the upper part of the building emerges as two apartment towers 13 and 11 storeys in height. The complex figure has something of the qualities of the classic urban buildings of Manhattan from the 1910s and 20s. Like the New York examples, the massing of the lower floors and the tectonic of the precast concrete facades works to reconcile individual expression with the continuity of the city.

The project was carried out in collaboration with Zurich-based Bosshard Vaquer Architekten.

Status: complete

St Gallen Cathedral Chancel, St Gallen, Switzerland

St Gallen Cathedral Chancel, St Gallen, Switzerland

St Gallen Cathedral Chancel, St Gallen, Switzerland

St Gallen is famous for its monastic complex including its lavish cathedral and extraordinary library. In the 1960s a temporary wooden chancel addressed the demands of the Second Vatican Council to engage the congregation, but left an architectural problem at the centre of the church. The project represents a permanent solution to this problem – remaking the chancel so that it more closely reflects the way that the congregation gathers to worship today. The Rococo interior, with its expansive vaults, painted ceilings and elaborate figural decoration, is a space of the imagination. It opens upwards to the painted heavens of the dome and outwards to the eastern apse and high altar that would once have been the focus of the monastic community. Caruso St John set out to counter this outward emphasis by bringing a new intimacy to the centre of the church, providing a point of focus for the modern service. The design establishes a new vertical axis, a column of space rising from the new altar to the dome, at the meeting point of the two horizontal axes of symmetry of the plan. Circles, arcs and rings generate a symbolic geometry in the existing architecture, and emphasise the gathering in the heart of the church, in an open way that does not diminish the existing, expansive qualities of the cathedral.

The plinth for the altar is formed with a series of concentric oval steps made in terrazzo, whose rounded geometry is framed at the rear by the recessive arc of the existing Rococo choir screen. A delicate frieze is draped on to each of the steps, giving the plinth an ocular depth that rhymes with the celestial rings in the ceiling painting above. The ceremonial furniture of the new chancel, the altar, the ambo, the baptismal font and a semi-circular seat for the clergy are also made in terrazzo, with each element being further inlaid with another material: marble, walnut and polished metal.

Status: complete

Lycée Hôtelier de Lille, Lille, France

Lycée Hôtelier de Lille, Lille, France

Lycée Hôtelier de Lille, Lille, France

The establishment of this hospitality and tourism college on the Fives Cail Babcock (FCB) site is a first and significant step in the transformation of a historically important place of industry.

A disused industrial complex, the FCB is characterised by large-scale structures and open spaces. The masterplan sustains the scale, monumentality and strong spatial qualities of the site. The design seeks to embody the historical significance of the FCB site while simultaneously adapting the place for community and learning. The strategy for working in and around the building fabric of the FCB site is one of material transformation and typological continuity. Existing structures are kept in their entirety with their attractive, romantic and slightly melancholy character intact. Applying a light touch to the restoration brings into focus the buildings’ epic scale and their history. The new structures are pragmatic, and share a tectonic and material sympathy with the existing. This is not a game of new and old, but rather making a new environment where interventions work at the scale of the factory, and new programmes draw energy from their extreme spatial generosity.

The programme for the Lycée Hôtelier is organised within the footprint of the former factory structures. A complex of new buildings is located where the FCB site and surrounding city meet. These accommodate the gymnasium, the student residence and staff housing – uses that naturally mediate between the existing surrounding communities and the new communities that will inhabit this emerging urban quarter.

Expected completion date: 2016

Bremer Landesbank, Bremen, Germany

Bremer Landesbank, Bremen, Germany

Bremer Landesbank, Bremen, Germany

The facades of the Bremer Landesbank in Bremen’s historic temple district refer to a northern European tradition of expressive brick construction, where dark, hard clinker bricks form piers, buttresses and ornamental friezes – dressing the building in a thick masonry skin. The elevations have a vertical Gothic character, simultaneously monolithic and delicate, referring to the Weser Renaissance of the Bremen town hall and the Stadtwaage arts centre, and generally to a Hanseatic tradition of quality and reserve. Within the vertical grain of the external wall, expressive brick doorways mark the entrances to the head office and to the bank branch.

The identity of the bank is not only its facades, but also its public interiors and the nature of its internal organisation. The new building has a large courtyard at its centre that gives a simple and generous image to its organisation. This new central space is open to the sky and has its floor at pavement level. Acting as a forecourt, this space is semi-public – an extended threshold to the head office entrance. Internal arrangements are very flexible, allowing for the maximum number of individual offices on each floor, with frontage to the external facades or to the courtyard, each with an opening window. The large staff restaurant and the private client reception rooms of the bank are located on the top floor, where 500 staff members can enjoy the extraordinary views over the roof of the city.

Expected completion date: 2016

ZSC Lions Arena, Zurich, Switzerland

ZSC Lions Arena, Zurich, Switzerland

ZSC Lions Arena, Zurich, Switzerland

The site for the new Zurich Arena is at the edge of the city, a place where the urban structure has run out. This is a good setting for a new sports arena and is an opportunity to mark the beginning of the city with a public building that makes a festive place for ice hockey. The design proposes a building with qualities somewhere between a monument and a tent. The clarity of its structure and volume suggests the archaic qualities of a mosque or caravanserai, an emblematic figure that makes its own place in a situation without specific qualities. The new arena should be different from the neighbouring industrial structures and should clearly mark out a space for public gathering, a meeting place and a gateway to the city.  

The arena is organised on one level, avoiding the superimposition of long-span structures and resulting in the most efficient building volume. Buttresses on the long sides of the arena support steel trusses that span east-west over the main ice hockey and practice rinks. At ground level the depth of the buttresses forms arcades that run the length of the arena’s long east and west, facades, and all entrances for fans, VIPs and vehicles are accommodated within these generous circulation spaces. At the south end of the arena, where the majority of fans will arrive, the arcades open up into monumental stairs that lead directly to a large south-facing public terrace. During match days, this terrace creates a generous outdoor space that cannot be provided at ground level. When matches are not scheduled, this terrace could be used for celebrations and trade events, intensifying and diversifying the use of the arena. The equivalent space at the north of the site is a densely landscaped courtyard which provides an exterior amenity space for the VIP and press facilities.  

The primary structure of buttresses and trusses is covered by a cladding of precast concrete elements that refers to monumental Classicism as well as having light, textile qualities. On the east and west facades the cladding elements form undulations which press into the space between the buttresses like a giant hanging drapery. The light tone of the cladding will be activated by natural light which will play on the drapery and on the fluting of its modelled surface. The cladding stops in a gently scalloped profile at the top of the arcade whose interior is clad in deep purple mosaic tiles.

Expected completion date: 2020

St Jakob Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland

St Jakob Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland

St Jakob Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland

Caruso St John’s design for the St Jakob Stiftung factory and warehouse, which will provide work for disabled people including a bakery, furniture making and electronics assembly, responds to a collection of loose structures following a viaduct as it cuts through Zurich West. The building has a stepped profile and differentiated volume to accentuate its object quality and to make associations with older industrial buildings nearby. St Jakob has the qualities of a working building; open, robust, with light deep into the plan and a morphology that reflects the processes and activities that take place inside. Gentrification in the surrounding neighbourhood has broken the community’s relationship with its industrial past and this building goes some way to bridge these two worlds.

The building is as compact as possible, with larger floors housing the bakery and packing departments at the base of the building, and a stack of four smaller floors accommodating other facilities above. The south, west and east faces are lined with balconies made in fine, repeated precast concrete elements. Part-palazzo, part-warehouse, the front facade of the building onto Heinrichstrasse is clad in precast concrete, thin plates that stretch from floor to floor. In these ways the building shares some qualities with the cast-iron buildings of downtown New York.

Expected completion date: 2017

Falconhoven Housing, Antwerp, Belgium

Falconhoven Housing, Antwerp, Belgium

Falconhoven Housing, Antwerp, Belgium

Caruso St John won this commission for an apartment building in Antwerp in a limited competition organised by the City. The L-shaped building accommodates 36 apartments alongside shops, offices, a community centre and a kindergarten. The design forms part of a masterplan by Rapp + Rapp to redevelop the site of a formers seamen’s hostel in a dense part of the city near the docks.

The difference in scale between the apartment building and the adjacent townhouses is part of a conscious attempt to make a city block with an unexpected and enjoyable variety. The individual buildings are full of character, adopting diverse spatial typologies and forms. In combination, the apartment building and the townhouses enclose a quiet courtyard entered from the surrounding streets via passageways. The apartments have wide balconies facing south and west, overlooking the garden courtyard and a small park. Designed as loggias, the balconies are held up by figure-like columns of precast concrete. The facades avoid systemisation and make open elevations in close contact with the spaces they address. On the ground floor, around the courtyard, are community functions including studio spaces and a café.

Expected completion date: 2017

Grosser Burstah, Hamburg, Germany

Grosser Burstah, Hamburg, Germany

Grosser Burstah, Hamburg, Germany

This new 13,500m² office building in central Hamburg is situated on Grosser Burstah, adjacent to the Nikolaifleet canal, and is part of a masterplan to restructure the area to the north of St Nicholas’s Church in order to re-establish a scale of city blocks more consistent with the older streets in the quarter.

While the arrangement of the new buildings on the southern part of the larger site will form a clearer definition of the platz around the ruins of St Nicholas’s Church, the site on Grosser Burstah is a more complex situation. On one side the new building needs a noble face to Grosser Burstah, an important city street with a 19th-century scale. On the other side, the new building faces a canal, standing in the context of adjacent historic buildings along the water’s edge. The building also stands next to a special point where Grosser Burstah spans the canal, where views out to the water open up from the street.

The aim of the design is to shape the mass of the building so that its facades have the proportion and delicacy to address these different situations, and contribute to the richness and quality of urban space that is so enjoyable in this part of Hamburg.

Status: in design development

Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland

Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland

Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland

Caruso St John won the competition to design the city centre of Neuhausen am Rheinfall. Comprising a new town hall, fire station and school alongside commercial and residential accommodation, the design provides a set of interconnected civic spaces for markets, public gatherings and leisure.

Status: in design development

 

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