Innovative pioneering project for allergy sufferers uses natural building materials and takes on a role as pioneer in the field of ecological and healthy building.

Project details

Project MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland
Architect Andreas Zimmermann Architekten AG
Product Porotherm T7
Year of construction 2013
 

MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Construction Side MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Construction Side MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Construction Side MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Construction Side MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Model MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Model MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Sectional View MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Sectional View MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Site Plan MCS-Compatible (Ground Floor) residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Site Plan MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Site Plan MCS-Compatible (Top Floor) residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

Site Plan MCS-Compatible residential house in Zurich, Switzerland © Zimmermann Sutter Architekten AG

An unusual pilot project

The first apartment block in Europe intended for persons who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) was realized in Zurich. Persons concerned show an allergic reaction to chemicals and heavy metals which are added to almost all usual building materials in order to make further processing easier or to optimize material properties. Even very small amounts of these residential poisons and the emissions they produce can cause MCS. The problems include dizziness, pains in one's arms and legs as well as skin and respiratory tract problems.

 
The special needs of the residents were taken into account from the very beginning and the persons concerned were involved in the project. Still, good economy of the project was a pre-condition. Many persons suffering from MCS live in financially modest situations and the apartments rented as subsidized living space had to be affordable. The Gesundes Wohnen MCS housing cooperative, together with the city of Zurich and the housing cooperatives of Zurich, realized the unusual pilot project comprising 15 living units.

The building material

The choice of proper materials played a decisive role in addition to the layout of the apartments and clarifications relating to building law. The first concept already relied on mineral and thus natural materials because these are free of emissions, non-toxic and therefore compatible with allergy sufferers. In view of these properties, the choice in favour of bricks as building materials was made quickly, or to be more precise: a Porotherm clay blocks filled with perlite granules which was used in a purely monolithic massive construction for the outer walls.  Additional insulation is not required when using high thermal insulation clay blocks, thus excluding another potential source of pollutants.

 
Moreover, bricks meet the highest requirements in terms of statics, sound insulation and shielding against electromagnetic waves. When used together with other building materials, it keeps the indoor air free of odours, radiation and other emissions and contributes to a healthy living climate.
 
Timber materials were almost completely avoided in this project because persons suffering from MCS react very sensitively to the resins and other components (lignin derivatives) contained in the wood. Adhesives, paints and coatings were restricted to a minimum and the site workers were specifically trained in the processing of materials.

The best possible quality of living

To achieve the best possible quality of living, all rooms of the MCS residential house feature a multi-shell layout. The more one advances into these apartments, the "cleaner" they become. Each apartment starts with a kind of lock accommodating the wardrobe and the washing machine. Here harmful external and environmental influences are removed from the clothes before one accesses the actual apartment. The bedrooms are located at the very end, next to the outer wall.

 
As far as the residents are concerned, building the MCS-compatible residential house is a true milestone. In addition, this innovative pioneering project takes on a role as forerunner in the field of ecological and healthy building. The new findings will be used for other future building projects.
 
Architect Andreas Zimmermann about the selection of the proper building material:
"Many building materials are modified by adding chemicals to make construction processes quicker and easier for the workmen. In the MCS house, natural building materials were used exclusively, making it compatible also for allergy sufferers. Porotherm clay blocks contain no chemical substances and were therefore perfectly suited for the outer walls of the MCS-compatible residential house."
 

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