Jan Engelke & Lukas Fink
The Beauty of the Cadastral Map
The power of the Cadastral Map is tremendous: It lays the foundation of every architectural project. It shapes the single architectural object and consequently the entire city. Unfortunately, the power of this plan often has an restrictive impact on architecture and city planning. Our project attempts to unleash this power in a productive way – by shifting the Cadastral Map. This shift makes it possible to build between existing structures thereby densifying the city without need of demolition. The urban qualities of different building typologies can be mixed and combined. After the shift, a contiguous building development is possible, where the boundary setback usually prescribes a distance between buildings. The project thereby criticizes contemporary ways of densification, often going along with demolition of small spatially structured areas. It is an experiment to find alternative ways of building and thinking of the city by the use of a speculative method.
We tested this method in a limited perimeter in the city of Zurich. There The Cadastral Map is shifted by 47 meters westwards. This distance, equivalent to 1.5 times the size of an average plot, allows very often to build between the existing buildings. The situation after the shift demands for a new set of rules. This rules include the protection of all existing buildings, a setback from existing buildings, the right to connect building fragments that belong to the same plot as well as a compensation rule. This compensation rule makes up for losses caused by the shift through an adjustment of the plot ratio. The result is a new individual plot ratio for each plot, causing the density to double from a utilization ratio of 0.6 to 1.3 after the shift. The individual plot ratio and the new rules form the basis of the design for the city after the shift.
The city after the shift of the Cadastral Map is dense and complex, offering a greater variety of different, unexpected urban spaces. Historic perimeter blocks and new buildings get interwoven and define a new street space, monotonous row housing is transformed by new connections to a sequence of courtyards. Detached houses get interlaced and form clustered units. These new urban figures combine the spatial qualities of different building typologies and thus refuse a clear typological denomination.
For the individual building the shift of the Cadastral Map implies interesting changes in plan and section. Afterwards a huge variety of different unit sizes and shapes can be found in every house, providing for a small-scale social mix. The unity of house and flat is challenged by flats situated in and between multiple, originally separated, houses. These are situations where old and new fabric collides sharply: Former exterior surfaces, windows and doors can be found again at the inside. Old and new exists at the same time and forms a new entity, different architectural forms and time layers collide, without being product of the anachronistic and out-of-context method of the collage.