Diener & Diener - Switzerland
Apartment Buildings Hammerstrasse
Hammerstrasse 164 / Bläsiring, Basel
1978 - 1981

The origins for the subsidized housing project Hammerstrasse go back to the earliest days of the architectural office Diener & Diener. The apartment building
is located in the northern outskirts of the city district Kleinbasel. This project is an early example of an urbanization program in a formerly industrial area.
This development encompasses half an urban block. The drawings for this project show the wohle urban block, half of which consists of existing buildings.
The block consists of two u-shaped volumes which are seperated by a tree-lined passage. A row of two-story atelier buildings are arranged along this alleyway.
These atelier constructions continue the tradition of light industry and handicraft production. This kind of usage was a common feature of the courtyard side
of nineteenth-century urban blocks. The mentioned alleyway gives this urban structure an uncommon transparancy, resulting in a better connection of the
inner semi-public space with the overall urban structure. This design decision, resulting in a breaking up of the traditional urban block, is considered to be
indebted to the modernist urbanism.

This urban residential development combines row houses with individual entrances directly from the street, with apartment units on the upper floors.
There were realized apartments of different sizes, so that they can accommodate families, single people as well as elderly people. The arrangement
of the apartments results in groups of the same type and size. The facades show a varying level of openness, related to the site conditions and to
the interior life of the residential units. At the facades the entrances to the maisonette type row-houses are marked by cornices above the doorways.
The corner of the urban block is emphasized by a cylindrical volume with generous fenestration. Behind this fully glazed and rounded facade are located
the flats for the single-person housholds. Fully glazed boxes, which are used as winter-garden like balconies, project over the facades on the inner side of
the courtyard. Another remarkable feature of this building, is the combination of fourty-five and ninety degree wall configurations in plan. This layout
results in a living space running through from north to south.

The appearance of the building is marked by a consistent use of materials. On the facades facing the street, the building has a base made in exposed concrete.
Above this base the masonry walls are painted white. The same white masonery walls were used for the facades to the inner side of the courtyard.
The wooden window frames in the masonry walls were painted in a pale blue-green colour. The atelier buildings have one "representative" elevation
to the alleyway which is realized as a brick wall. This wall is perforated by a single large opening encompassing both stories.