052-1115-23L  Architectural Design V-IX: Excess (T. Emerson)

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersT. Emerson, B. Gusic
Periodicityevery semester recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentPlease register (Link) only after the internal enrolment for the design classes (see Link).

Project grading at semester end is based on the list of enrolments on 1.11.2023 (valuation date) only. This is the ultimate deadline to unsubscribe or enroll for the studio.


052-1115-23 UArchitectural Design V-IX: Excess (T.Emerson) Special students and auditors need a special permission from the lecturers.
Permission from lecturers required for all students.
No course 24/25.10(seminar week).
16 hrs
Tue09:45-17:30HIL F 64 »
Wed08:00-17:30HIL F 64 »
T. Emerson, B. Gusic

Catalogue data

AbstractThe Hermetschloo area is one of the few sites along the Gleisfeld that remain in their original state. In the future, the site will be heavily densified. At the same time, the zone is full of strong architectural characters. How can they be adapted to become fixtures in a new district, which transport the characteristics and identity of the ‘old’ Hermetschloo into the future?
Undertake several types of research simultaneously including:
-Qualitative site/building analysis (photographic, drawing)
-Systematic analysis (inventory of uses, material history, social history, etc…)
-Technical analysis (geology, climate, ecology)
-Interpret and synthesise information above into a concise and ongoing knowledge base for the design of a project.
-Assimilate small, fragmentary observations into broad understanding of place, building, etc…

-Formulate a spatial concept for a project, demonstrating an understanding of the difference between spatial and programmatic decisions.
-Demonstrate an ability to design interior and exterior spaces, as well as the space around a building.
-Consider and understand the relationship and impact of a design on a wider landscape.
-Develop an integrated and relevant structural, constructional and environmental concept for the project
-Demonstrate understanding of the technical performance of a project.

-Develop a critical eye in photographic recording of both place and work.
-Develop ability to make fast sketch models and complex presentation models with precise conceptual purpose.
-Develop an understanding of the status and purpose of different kinds of representation, and deploy them effectively
-Use detailed drawings and models to illustrate the constructional concept of a project

-Demonstrate ability to work, learn and communicate as a whole studio, in small groups and individually.
-Demonstrate high level of technical and critical standard in 2D CAD drafting.
-Develop ability to assimilate a broad range of working practices.
-Be able to clearly and concisely describe a concept, working practice, and outcome.

The semester work will be graded as a whole after the final crit. The grade will reflect the project presented in the final crit and overall progress during the semester. The final grade will include individual project work and contribution to group work and seminars. Grades are given to individuals and not to pairs or groups.

There will be no arithmetic breakdown to the final grade. You will be given feedback on progress during the interim crits and in tutorials. Questions regarding individual progress can be raised in tutorials. Written warning will be sent to students at risk of failing (however the absence of such letter is not a guarantee of a pass).

Each student is responsible for recording feedback during crits and you are encouraged to ask a colleague to take notes during for you.
ContentThe Hermetschloo area is one of the few sites along the Gleisfeld that remain in their original state. Light industry, commerce, offices, creative work and housing mix with a unique biodiversity and ecosystem to create a very specific place at the edge of the city. In the future, the site will be heavily densified and developed. Starting in the 1990s the industry slowly started to move out, and the pressure on the district to redevelop started to rise. Even though plans approved in a 2005 ‘Gestaltungsplan’ haven’t been carried out, the areas surrounding the track field have been occupied by new construction one after the other. With the formalization of the new Richtplan, the area lies in the high-rise zone, which means that heavy densification is coming its way.

At the same time, the zone is full of strong architectural characters. The Micafil building is the first larger scale solar building in Switzerland, expressing its reach for the sun and its technology-driven ethos clearly in its form. The Schnellgutbahnhof was the first computerized logistics terminal in the country, having been constructed with a prefab system which takes the measure of its components from the train carriages that transported them. But also, there are very generic buildings, in the best way. Commercial buildings, extruding their ground floor surface into multiples of repetitive spaces, which can be appropriated for countless uses, from offices to production to artists’ studios to homes.

These structures are endangered by the aforementioned densification of the area, each for different reasons. How can they be adapted, transformed, reconfigured to become fixtures in a new district, which transport the characteristics and identity of the ‘old’ Hermetschloo into the future?

The task this semester will be to work with the contradictions of excess and the complexities of densification. Three sites, each with specific a architectural logic and expression are for reconsideration, the pioneering production hall for Micafil with its hull of defunct solar collectors, the production hall of the ABB cloaked in a modernist facade, and the stripped back logistical hall of the Schnellgut bahnhof. The specificities of each building under the current construction environment earmark them for demolition, perhaps not next year, but eventually the pressure from Zurich's gradual expansion will force these buildings to be considered. Under scrutiny there will be an excess of complexity, or systems, of specificity, making them too costly to consider for standard renovation or reuse.

Considering the fate of former logistical railway adjacent sites in Zürich, your task is to work with one of these buildings and the wastelands next to them to preempt the development of this site, whilst retaining the now established ruderal ecology. If some small scale demolition works are inevitable if the majority of the built structure is to be retained, how do we design this process with the same care as we dedicate to new constructions? If new construction is required, what is the language of a decarbonised urban development?
Prerequisites / NoticeGroup work / work in pairs only.
Introduction: 19 September 2023
9 am in the studio space HIL F 65.1
Intermediate crits to be anounced
Final crits 19. & 20. December
No fixed costs
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Cooperation and Teamworkassessed
Personal CompetenciesAdaptability and Flexibilityassessed
Creative Thinkingassessed
Critical Thinkingassessed
Self-awareness and Self-reflection assessed

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits14 credits
ExaminersT. Emerson, B. Gusic
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationUltimate deadline for changing enrolments for this course is 1.11.2023, 24:00 h.
After this date it is strictly forbidden to enrol for the course or to delete the enrolment!

Learning materials

Main linkInformation
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


General : Special students and auditors need a special permission from the lecturers
Permission from lecturers required for all students

Offered in

Architecture BachelorArchitectural Design (from 5. Semester on)WInformation