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  7. House Gross / EM2N

House Gross / EM2N

  • 01:00 - 3 June, 2009
House Gross / EM2N
House Gross / EM2N

House Gross / EM2N House Gross / EM2N House Gross / EM2N House Gross / EM2N +12

  • Architects

  • Location

    Greifensee, Switzerland
  • Architects

  • Engineers

    Tragwerk Bauingenieure GmbH, Zürich
  • Client

  • Programme

    new building: 3 childrens' rooms, 1 bathroom, 2 patios, 1 home cinema/hobby room
  • Constructed Area

    new building: 67 sqm, conversion ground floor: 127 sqm
  • Area

    0.0 sqm
  • Project Year


From the architect. In fact, all the clients originally wanted was a larger living room window - now their three children live in a patio house of their own.

From a present-day perspective the use of space in this 1960s development of single-storey row houses with basement seems wasteful. The layout of the estate is far from dense, and in terms of the density permitted by the building regulations there are reserves of potentially usable space. But exploiting the permitted density means conducting intensive negotiations with all neighbours affected before any new building project can be started.

As, according to the building regulations, underground buildings do not count as utilization of space, we suggested to the clients making an underground patio house as a "second house" of their own. So we place an independent underground patio house beside the existing house, without adding a single square metre of surface area above ground thus eliminating the necessity of obtaining the neighbours' approval.

While two differently shaped courtyards are incised in the garden, the new bedrooms and a bathroom are attached to the existing basement. A former crawl space was converted into a home cinema and new hobby room. A huge screen fills one of the narrow sides of the room while the opposite wall is completely covered with mirrored-glass. Backlit panels with cut-out patterns are located on the side walls, offering specific lighting situations depending on different uses.

A narrow stairs connects the upper house with the lower one. The gaze is directed through the new south window into the garden. The garden is cleared out almost completely and later filled up again. Through large areas of glazing in the patio and the new windows on the ground floor the principal orientation of the house is now south-west. The courtyards are painted white to transport the maximum amount of light. The bays between the railing uprights are filled with a transparent mesh material. Two circular roof lights provide additional light for the children's bedrooms. They can be closed off with horizontal sliding shutters.

The house and the garden interlock. The increased amount of space underground allowed separate rooms at ground floor level to be combined increasing the size of the living room and giving this initially small and compartmented house a certain expansiveness and generosity.

Cite: "House Gross / EM2N" 03 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Chris · September 15, 2010

That yellow is disturbing..

Avery James Brooks · June 08, 2009

Interesting half-underground home ... (speaking of my multilevel basement obsession)

nombre · June 07, 2009

maybe 90% of the readers didn't notice, that this is an rehabilitation + extension of an old settlement house. the extension shouldn't harm the rest of the settlement.

don't judge if you know nothing whatsoever about sth.

J Farrelli · June 06, 2009
viniruski · June 06, 2009

sulka: sometimes a stoopid project warrants stoopid comments.

sullka · June 05, 2009

Seriously, some of the comments are pointless, even irrelevant.

"why an exterior shower, is there a pool?"
"I wouldn't shower with a kid slide right in front"
"mustard yellow, what an horrible color"

I mean, c'mon!

Maybe the clients love mustard yellow, when I was a kid, I loved to shower with the hose in my backyard patio, specially during the summers, I think kids would love that in their own private patio, plus it's easier fo rteh parents to clean up the mess after the kids where playing.

Maybe its a couple with little kids, young enough to shower with their parents, why would the parents hide when taking a shower then? or maybe it's a cultural thing and they're not so "hush hush" with their bodies and nakedness, or maybe there's a screen that you can lower when taking a shower if you want more privacy, or what if the clients requested that feature.

C'mon people, post something to discuss.

Now, It doesn't really quite seems new construction, more like a house from the 60's that got rehab.

While I don't totally like the overall house aesthetics, I have to admit that is a pretty clever and well thought solution for the building permits issue in hand.

Another thing, I also love the looks of the home theater, is like out of a scifi movie set, but I'm not too sure if white was the right color for a room you would actually want to be as dark as possible.

my 2 cents.

Daniel Con · June 05, 2009

why are people idiots because they dont like the house?

Manomania · June 05, 2009

You're exactly right, you have no idea what you're talking about. Like most, there are a bunch of idiots on here...nice project, pushing past the psycrometric barriers

ernesto dalmar · June 05, 2009

I don't like it at all. In fact, the project is interesting (talking about program and about what clients wanted) but, in my opinion, it's not well resoluted. And i also like the neigbourhood relations and to see something from my house...

or maybe i don't understand the project very well

Daniel Con · June 04, 2009

exactly, house gross

Bo Lucky · June 04, 2009

It's not my style of living but some people may enjoy underground life. Especially in countries with extremely hot or cold climate. It's a sad day when in the highly developed European country the existing regulations in combination with relationships within the community force people to build houses below the grade. It's a bad example to follow.

Lukas · June 04, 2009

Oh, I didn't see the pictures of the home cinema room. It looks amazing. But also shows how a good movie room should have reflective walls - it looks like there would be reflections of the whole screen on both sides

Stone · June 04, 2009

I like the hierarchical of space,sometimes the space around us is mistiness,as a result that we can't feel the space clearly.So the clear structure is beautiful.
Just like the Le Corbusier's concept-The separation of people and vehicle.
PS.I love the mini movie theater.

Amandazz · June 04, 2009

i can sniff some jealousy smokin' out of some ppl's backside...seriously?? why so mean??

Lukas · June 04, 2009

Honestly I like it. Even if it does look a little like a bunker its nothing they can't fix with a new elevation material. The concept itself plays out great. Not only they bypassed some troublesome negotiation with neighbours but the lower rooms have more privacy than the ones on the ground level.

However I disagree with the home cinema - it so narrow that you won't get a proper surround sound and it seems putting a couch in there will block any crossing of the room. One more strange thing - anyone noticed a room in the top left corner which is quite big but only has a small conceiled door? creepy

Overall thats a great adaptation and I think it does illustrate a bit that there are no too high ambitions for a too small project.

kayleen · June 04, 2009

why is there an outdoor shower?! is there a pool around or something?!

Terry Glenn Phipps · June 04, 2009

Apparently domestic architecture is out sick and the substitute teacher is a bourgeois Swiss bunker conversion replete with Charlie's Angels super graphics and the startling innovation of a home cinema. Maybe the architect lives in a bunker too? Maybe bunker living explains this somehow?

jay · June 04, 2009

god, what horrible taste in color. Mustard yellow? are you kidding

on the flip side, the mini movie theater idea is fantastic

Andrew Firstenberger · June 04, 2009

Checking out underground houses, looks like a great idea if you dont have to worry about floods -

viniruski · June 04, 2009

The cinema/hobby room looks like a lesbian porn studio. And I'm not sure I'd want to take a shower in that bathroom while some kid is sliding down a slide right towards me outside.

kummer · June 04, 2009

The concept of the extension is ok, but not really well done / convertet (materials)

moma · June 04, 2009

What ugly bannisters....why that much yellow, then better no color.

Lucas Black · June 04, 2009

What a surprise - Mr "LUCAS GRAY" writes again his comment and of course he likes it and find everything FANTASTIC!

Lucas Gray · June 03, 2009

Fantastic! An incredibly creative way to maneuver around building codes and create a fantastic living space.

Luis · June 03, 2009

do u have some inspiration in a egg?


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House Gross