The density of a substance is a measurement of its compactness, its mass divided by volume. As Basel’s
population or ‘mass’ continues to grow, limitations have been imposed on its degreeof sprawl or
‘volume’. The outcome, therefore, is a denser city, where new volumes are introduced between, above or
Urban density is often referred to through population statistics, unit numbers and areas in a pragmatic
and scientific analysis. The statistics are widely accepted to prove dense cities are more environmentally
and economically sustainable. However, along with economic and environmental sustainability, I argue
that denser neighbourhoods can also support social sustainability which I define as an unprescribed,
symbiotic system of community, which naturally regenerates as lives and cultural contexts evolve.
I see maximum densification potential in the cooperative living typology as an ethos of resource
pooling preexists. This master’s thesis intends to repopulate and extend an underoccupied set of
cooperative apartments located on them southern edge of the identified urban block between
Arlesheimerstrasse and Gundeldingerstrasse.
In this two-part project, I began by researching how the existing apartments function. As an architect
in the current climate, I take the stance to consider first what the current structures offer and explore
their potential through often minimal intervention. Step two was to identify what the old cooperative
buildings could not offer and rationally consider integrating a new volume on the BWG owned plot.
Essentially the new building should respond to its surroundings and characteristically enrich the site.
It should therefore read as a new contributing fragment. The surrounding buildings were constructed,
renovated and added to over time, and the block, therefore, reads like a palimpsest of stories or series
of moments. Rather than erasing or overtaking, I envision the cooperative extension as a new addition
to the collection of stories. I find the ‘imperfections’ of this block charming, and unlike the formal
yet bland speculative tabula rasa housing on the block next door, the diverse quality of this interior
courtyard personifies the natural conditions of the domestic realm.
Purkis Róisín, Hochschule Luzern - Departement Technik & Architektur