Quarter of the Dancing Couples in Wangen-Brüttisellen

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


KCAP, in collaboration with Studio Vulkan and Raumanzug, has emerged as the winner of the competition to develop a new residential neighborhood called the ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples’ in Wangen-Brüttisellen, near Zurich, Switzerland. This innovative urban design project aims to transform the former Erni-Areal industrial estate into a vibrant and high-density community. With a focus on sustainability and creating a contrast within the surrounding context, KCAP’s design proposes a unique and livable neighborhood with distinct typologies and interconnected public spaces.

Creating a Contrast in a Heterogeneous Context

KCAP's 'Quarter of the Dancing Couples' Wangen-Brüttisellen, a fast-growing municipality, sought to densify its urban areas, including the redevelopment of the Erni-Areal site. The location posed several challenges, including its proximity to a busy railway station, a high-bay warehouse for Coca-Cola, and noise pollution from a nearby highway and the Zurich airport. KCAP’s solution was to respond to this diverse context with a clear design approach that contrasts the surrounding large-scale projects. Instead of towering structures, the ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples’ embraces compact, low-rise buildings, providing a high-density environment with cozy and intimate spaces.

Designing for Liveability and Noise Reduction

One of the key features of KCAP’s design is the staggered arrangement of buildings, acting as a noise barrier while maintaining an open character. The residential units are strategically located in protected blocks, shielded from the busy thoroughfare and highway exit. Meanwhile, blocks along these busy areas feature flexible office spaces and penthouse apartments. Despite the contrasting elements, the Erni-Areal remains visually and physically connected to its surroundings through multiple entrances and openings, ensuring a high degree of permeability.

Distinct Typologies and Interconnected Public Spaces

KCAP's 'Quarter of the Dancing Couples' The ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples’ is characterized by four different typologies: the atrium house, the linear house, the point house, and the twin house. Each typology is repeated twice, creating pairs that appear to be gracefully dancing with each other. This arrangement generates a sequence of interconnected public spaces within the neighborhood. These spaces offer a variety of unique qualities, including lushly planted courtyards, buffer zones between public and private areas, and car-free streets. Moreover, these thoughtfully designed spaces serve as retention areas for rainwater, contribute to a microclimate, and incorporate sustainable cooling measures.

Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Sustainability is a fundamental aspect of KCAP’s projects, and the Erni-Areal development exemplifies their commitment to ecological design. The building blocks are designed to incorporate recycled concrete for basements, ground floors, and building cores, while prefabricated wood is used for other sections. This hybrid approach streamlines the complex building process, benefiting both the environment and project finances. Additionally, the neighborhood features various sustainability measures, including PV panels, green roofs, heat pumps, and natural ventilation. The project aims to meet the requirements of the SNBS (Standard Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz) for sustainable construction.

Preservation and Expansion of ERNI Headquarters

KCAP's 'Quarter of the Dancing Couples' The existing ERNI headquarters will be preserved and expanded with a greenhouse, serving as a community center focused on urban food production. At night, the glass pavilion will serve as a prominent symbol of the new neighborhood, blending the area’s industrial heritage with contemporary elements. This integration adds variety and coherence, fostering a true sense of community within the ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples.’


KCAP’s urban design project, the ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples,’ in Wangen-Brüttisellen, demonstrates an innovative approach to transform the former Erni-Areal industrial estate into a vibrant and sustainable residential neighborhood. With a focus on creating a contrast within the heterogeneous context, KCAP’s design embraces compact, low-rise buildings while providing high-density living spaces. The staggered arrangement of buildings acts as a noise barrier, ensuring a comfortable and tranquil environment for residents.

The interconnected public spaces within the neighborhood offer a range of unique qualities, from lushly planted courtyards to car-free streets. These thoughtfully designed spaces not only enhance the livability of the community but also serve important environmental functions such as rainwater retention and creating a microclimate.

KCAP's 'Quarter of the Dancing Couples' Sustainability is a core principle of KCAP’s design philosophy, and the Erni-Areal development reflects this commitment. By incorporating recycled concrete and prefabricated wood, the project reduces its environmental impact while streamlining the construction process. Additional sustainable features include PV panels, green roofs, heat pumps, and natural ventilation systems, all contributing to the project’s goal of meeting the SNBS requirements for sustainable construction.

A notable aspect of the project is the preservation and expansion of the existing ERNI headquarters. The addition of a greenhouse, which will serve as a community center focused on urban food production, not only retains part of the area’s industrial atmosphere but also adds variety and coherence to the neighborhood. The glass pavilion, serving as a beacon at night, symbolizes the blending of the old and new, creating a unique and inviting atmosphere.

As the ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples’ continues to develop, it promises to be a vibrant and sustainable residential neighborhood that harmoniously integrates with its surroundings. KCAP’s innovative design, in collaboration with Studio Vulkan and Raumanzug, sets a benchmark for urban transformation, showcasing how thoughtful planning and sustainable practices can create a thriving community in the heart of Wangen-Brüttisellen.

With Mobimo AG as the client and ongoing development since 2022, the project signifies a significant step towards urban revitalization and the creation of a true neighborhood feel. The ‘Quarter of the Dancing Couples’ demonstrates the power of architectural innovation and sustainable design in shaping the future of urban living.

Technical Sheet

Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Client: Mobimo AG
Year: 2022 – current
Status: ongoing
Program: 36.000 m2 (GFA), transformation of an industrial area into mixed use neighbourhood with 279 apartments, office and commercial programme
Role: Urban planner and architect
Collaborators: Studio Vulkan (Landscape Architect), Raumanzug (Sustainability Consultant)

Leave a Reply