Pencil Tower - Hongkong in Zurich

by Simona Mühlebach, Michelle Rojas

april 13, 2011

Pencil Tower - Hongkong in Zurich by Simona Mühlebach, Michelle Rojas


Pencil Tower - Hongkong in Zurich by Simona Mühlebach, Michelle Rojas

Semester design
architecture students:Simona Mühlebach, Michelle Rojas
from: ETH Zurich
professor: Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein
semester: June, 2010
category: commercial,skyscraper


The floor plan of a typical Pencil Tower consists of small, winding rooms. To extend the small living area, boxes are fixed on the windows to gain more space. This is an identifying picture for Hong Kong and served as basis for the design of our project.

Density / Program
Our project is an extension of the Marriott Hotel which lies in the city centre of Zurich on the Limmat and close to the freeway exit. A small space close to the Hotel was chosen on which this pencil tower could be placed so that there is a direct connection from one building to the other.
The Marriott already has an additional building connected through a skywalk and we liked this urban image. Therefore we decided to plan the tower on a gap in front of an office complex across the street.
We planned 20 executive apartments for people who are planning an extended stay. The building provides recreational facilities, including a wellness spot at the top and restaurants on the lower floors.

Floor plan
The form of the building is explained though the surroundings and the floor plan of the apartments.
The south and east façade were restricted through the form of the office complex and we extended the firewall over the entire height of the building. Since this side is closed and straight we decided to break the restricted form towards the Limmat.
The idea was to reach the biggest possible utilisation on one 100 m2 floor, including a lift, fire escape, anteroom and two executive apartments. Each apartment containing a bedroom, bath, kitchenette, living and dining space has about 35 m2.
The sleeping area extends from the closed firewall in an angle towards a widening living area, where the windows are located. Thus the space winds towards the light and gives way to a beautiful view onto the Limmat. Giving each room (the bathroom has a separate window) only one opening intensifies the idea of the playful and the closed side. Consequently the façade shows a clear window front, where the building “engrails” and two closed sides, where the building adjoins the neighbouring building.


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