Stepped Houses, Meilen

Stepped Houses, Meilen


The high price of land in Switzerland turns the single-family dwelling typology into a privilege within reach of only a few. In view of these circumstances, row houses emerge as an excellent alternative because, with almost the same advantages of freestanding houses, it is possible to use the land available much more efficiently. This reason, along with the precipitous topography of the country, has turned terraced housing into one of the typologies most demanded not only by potential owners, but also by building contractors, who obtain a maximum profitability as it ensures a maximum inhabitable surface per built square meter. However, these advantages have been sadly overshadowed by real-estate speculation and by the proliferating construction of low-quality housing.

The project for the construction of three dwellings in the city of Meilen, located by the shores of Lake Zurich, attempts to recover the essence of this type of buildings and for this purpose resorts to a radical strategy. A sloping plot above the railway station is defined by a terraced profile that descends towards the east, adjusting to the maximum slope of the hillside. Six partially buried concrete boxes seem to sprout from the terrain. Thick opaque walls cover three of their four sides drawing a solid boundary with their nearby context, also screening them from prying neighbors. Only the east facade is transparent thanks to a large window. This window stands as the frontier between the rooms and a large balcony that reaches out to the extraordinary landscape fostering an intense relationship with it. Two different worlds are thus connected, the heavy and dark realm of the rock and the cavern and the light and luminous sphere of the air and the horizon.

The upper section of the plot accommodates the access piece composed of a carport that seems to be carved out of the built mass and a small portal equipped with an elevator that, recalling a mine shaft, sinks deep into the mountain and renders service to the two dwellings located on the lowest level of the plot. From the access volume one also reaches an outdoor stair cut out of the rock, amid high walls that frame the views onto the lake.

Each dwelling consists of two concrete boxes. Instead of the conventional distribution used in two-story dwellings, here the main living areas and the kitchen are on the upper level, and the lower level accommodates the bedrooms... [+]

Cliente Client


Arquitectos Architects

e2a Architects

Colaboradores Collaborators

Piet Eckert, Wim Eckert, Stefan Bernoulli, Philippe Le Roy, Nicole Manser, Andreas Rubin, Eva Weiler

Constructor Contractor


Consultores Consultants

Beiker (estructura structure); Inag (instalaciones mechanical engineering); Hardmeier (urbanización planning)

Fotos Photos

Michael Freisager