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Zapco practice profile.


Zapco is a Swiss firm dedicated to developing a new type of urban living to help counter the increasingly built-up nature of the countryside. Zapco's urban living developments take the form of apartments that offer the advantages of a family home. Varying room heights make for spacious interiors and optimise natural lighting, while open floor plans and spacious yet private outdoor areas allow flexibility in use. The basic development types can be realised in different structural forms to accommodate a range of target groups and locations.



In developing a wide range of different projects, from courtyard developments, multi-storey buildings and high-rise developments to integrated clusters, Zapco acts as architects and planners. Landowners, investors and other developers benefit from the firm's wide-ranging expertise acquired from earlier development projects such as Pile Up and Stack Up.


Buildings employ a modular design in terms of structural and service engineering, together with a high degree of prefabrication, thus rationalising and streamlining costs. The use of intelligent heating and fresh air systems in combination with renewable types of energy means the strictest ecological requirements are met. With their ingenious use of space and high level of quality, Zapco's innovative designs retain their value, a fact confirmed by both the scale of demand and level of occupant satisfaction.



Zapco was founded in the early 1970s as a subsidiary of Zwimpfer Partner Architekten in Basel in order to realise tourism and urban development projects in Saudi Arabia and Ecuador. Zwimpfer Partners were formed as a result of successful competition entries for the design of schools, colleges, churches and other major projects. The practice went on to found several housing construction cooperatives and undertake major projects in the role of developer.




Since 2004, Zapco has existed as a separate, independent company specialising in research, development and project realisation. Its focus is on urban planning within the context of current and future planning issues, such as the increasing encroachment of housing on the rural landscape due to a lack of attractive residential options in urban areas.

2002  present Development of Pile Up type

2004  Reorganisation of Zapco Ltd development company

2006  Pile Up am Rhein, Rheinfelden, building of 24
      residential and service units

2006  present Development of Stack Up type

2007  Pile Up Baarerstrasse, Zug, building of
      30 residential and service units

2009  Pile Up Quellengarten, Rheinfelden, building of 18
      residential and service units

2010  Pile Up am Neuhuserwald, Neuhausen am Rheinfall,
      building of 16 residential and service units

2011  Stack Up Quellengarten, Rheinfelden, building
      of 42 residential and service units


Pile Up is the first Zapco development type. It was launched in 2004 as a response to the increasing encroachment on greenfield sites by small-scale development structures. With Pile Up, Zapco offers urban apartments that have the advantages of a single-family home:

* Living and outdoor area with a room height of 5.6m

* Optimal incident natural lighting penetrates deep into the interior of the apartment

* Residential units of approx. 80[m.sup.2] to 300[m.sup.2] plus an external area of around 20[m.sup.2]

* open floor-plan structure allows long-term flexibility in use and individual finishing options--high quality office and studio uses can be accommodated

* Barrier-free living on one level

* Design can incorporate all forms of structural systems


The desire for a flexible, open-plan layout and generous space standards also highlights the contrasting need for a personal, private domain coupled with intelligent storage space. Stack Up provides a centrally located multifunctional space which frees up floor space in living areas and can be used flexibly.


Stack Up's appeal can be summarised as follows:

* Different room heights in areas with different uses, for example: main living area with a room height of 3.05m; double-height external space with a room height of 5.6m; multifunctional space with a room height of 2.05m


* Optimal incident natural lighting that penetrates deep into the interior of the apartment

* Residential units of approx. 80[m.sup.2] to 300[m.sup.2], plus an external area of around 16[m.sup.2]


* Long-term flexibility in use and individual finishing options--high-quality office and studio uses can be accommodated

* Barrier-free living on one level (with some restrictions concerning multifunctional space]


* A design that can incorporate all forms of structural systems Differentiated room heights are characteristic of both Pile Up and Stack Up. These are clearly reflected in the forms of their facades.




With their contrasting and alternating of high, normal and low room heights, Pile Up and Stack Up create a unique facade structure that is articulated in a new, architecturally distinctive form. This has clearly been recognised within the architecture scene, and has been implemented in projects from Zurich to Hamburg and New York.


Retail, commercial and office uses can be layered on top of one another in large clusters. In this way, a living architectural form is created in which content and design complement one another.


The finishing of the 100 Pile Up units constructed to date and the 40 Stack Up units currently under construction illustrate the wide range of possibilities offered by the open building structure. These include the individual positioning and design of the kitchens and sanitary facilities, the omission of partition walls with the aim of creating large single room units, and the selection and positioning of fitted furniture, floor coverings and wall finishes to permit residential, service or studio use. Stack Up's multi-functional space can be used as storage, archive space or home gym. It can also accommodate a sun bed, sauna or many other options.


Pile Up and Stack Up fulfil the much cited demand for sustainability in terms of adaptable spatial and service engineering requirements.


Individual finishing is subject to certain rules. Service shafts are fixed, and the installation of suspended ceilings in the tall room typical of Pile Up is not permitted. This is primarily for spatial and architectural reasons, but also because it would interfere with the increased level of acoustic insulation. In the case of rented properties, finishes are largely fixed, with two to three options offered for the arrangement of the floor plan.


The outdoor space can be converted into a conservatory through the addition of simple openable glazing. This is primarily recommended in urban locations subject to increased noise levels on the lower floors of the building. Alternating open and glazed outdoor areas further enriches the tectonic qualties of the building.

Zapco Ltd

CH-6300 Zug, Rothusweg 12

CH-4052 Basel, St. Alban-Anlage 66

Phone +41 (0)61 315 15 92

Fax +41 (0)61 315 15 93

Hans Zwimpfer, architect

Chairman of administrative board

Tina Puffert, architect

Managing director
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Article Details
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Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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