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Thalmatt I

Bern, Switzerland
1 of 16

Sited on the same hillside as Halen Estate which was built nearly 15 years earlier, the Thalmatt houses by Atelier 5 may be seen as evolving from the same concepts as Halen and represent the culmination of the Atelier 5 application of the idea of "village" to the design of collective housing. There are only 18 dwellings at Thalmatt, and while there is a sense of formal repetition and detail and material consistency, there is great variety within a general typology of a party-wall type of dwelling.

Stepping down a south-facing slope overlooking the Aare River, the houses are arranged in two terraces on each side of a pedestrian walkway running parallel to the slope. Three-story dwellings are located on the steeper part of the slope above the walkway and two-story houses below. The houses above are similar in form, dimension, and character, while the houses below differ widely. Elements of the houses pass over the walkway, which connects an entrance courtyard and parking garage with public spaces along the walk. Access to all houses is from this common public circulation spine.

Basic construction is in-situ lightweight concrete bearing walls and slabs. The compact village ambiance is very obvious from the point of arrival and throughout Thalmatt. Like Halen, absolute dwelling privacy and connection to private outdoor space has been a principal design idea. But Thalmatt seems more dense and overgrown than Halen; almost a medieval hill town overgrown with the foliage of centuries, entirely hidden from view.

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ibex73, December 23rd, 2015
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