Ballet Mécanique apartment block has walls that unfold to form balconies
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Ballet Mécanique apartment block has walls that unfold to form balconies and sunshades

Manuel Herz Architects has completed a housing block in Zurich, with dynamic facades that transform into balconies for its five apartments.

On all four sides of the three-storey Ballet Mécanique, the walls on the two lowest levels are opened using hydraulics to form colourful balconies and sunshades.

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

The largest moveable elements are balconies framed by fold-out railings, which front the living rooms of each home.

Smaller panels fold out to form static balconies for the bedrooms, or to provide shutters across the windows of other rooms.

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

"The louvres function as retractable balconies that can be accessed when unfolded," Manuel Herz told Dezeen.

"They also function as sun shading and allowing for either very introverted residential spaces, when all closed, or for bringing the surrounding garden into the apartments, when all open."

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

"When standing on the balconies, the opened louvre embraces the people on the balconies, creating an exterior space that is nevertheless shielded and intimate," continued Herz.

"This type of space is also in-between an exterior and interior space, somehow creating a good transition."

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

Located close to Lake Zurich, the housing block takes inspiration from Le Corbusier's nearby Heidi Weber Museum, as well as from the owner's own belongings.

"The overall idea references the kinetic art that the client collects," said Herz. "It is also an homage to the Corbusier building Heidi Weber Museum which is very close by, just 100 metres away."

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

The movement of the shutters dramatically alters the appearance of the building, from a monotone cuboid to a colourful interesting form.

"When all the louvres are closed, the overall volume has a very straight cubicle shape. Once the louvres open, the form becomes complex and expressive," Manuel Herz told Dezeen.

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

Each of the moving shutters is coloured one of 20 shades of red and blue to relate to the decoration inside the related rooms.

"The inner surface of each louvre is coloured reflecting a shade of colour into the interior of the apartments," a Herzdded. "The interior surfaces have a very pale colouring and the reds and blues of the louvers smudges onto these surfaces when the light reflects upon them."

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects

Other architects incorporating moveable elements into building's include Fouad Samara Architects, which recently completed a reconfigurable tower in Beirut, and architect Roberto Rossi, who completed a house in northern Italy that can rotate 360 degrees.


Project credits:

Architect: Manuel Herz Architects
Team: Manuel Herz, Stefan Schöch, Panagiota Alevizou
Facade structure: Lüchinger Meyer
Services: MAS Engineering
Costing: Bühler und Oettli
Site supervision: Bühler und Oettli
Project management: Odinga und Hagen
Client representative: Odinga Picenoni Hagen
Construction management: Bühler & Oettli
HVAC and sanitation planning: MAS Engineering
Building physics, acoustics: Gartenmann Engineering
Raw construction: Jenny & Co
Balcony facade: SFL Technologies
Carpenter: Johann Rasshofer Schreinerei
Metal construction: Schneebeli Metallbau
Flooring: a1 Industrieböden

More images and plans

Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Site plan
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ground floor plan
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
First floor plan
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Second floor plan
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Section
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Section
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Diagram
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects
Ballet Mecanique by Manuel Herz Architects