Nine Houses, Dietikon
Nine Houses, Dietikon; Photo Peter VetschProject Name: Nine Houses, Dietikon
Year: 1993
Owner: Nine Individual Families
Location: Dietikon, Switzerland
Building Type: Single-Family Residential
Type: Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 43056 sq.ft.
Slope: 35%
Access: Accessible, Private
Submitted by: Christine Thuring

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:
Architect: Peter Vetsch AG
The nine houses are private dwellings, all centered around a biotope pond. In addition to Vetsch's design postulates regarding the integration of buildings into nature, these houses are also designed with the intent to promote community and secure privacy. Earth buildings - living under the ground. Peter Vetsch has built more than 40 earth houses of many different kinds since 1974. Photo by Desair.Vetsch's aim is to integrate his buildings into the landscape as much as possible.  As such, not only are the roofs covered in vegetation, but also as many outer walls (lacking windows) as possible.
This Swiss complex of 9 residential homes typifies architect Peter Vetsch?s special niche for earth-covered architecture. Two premises from which the design for all of his buildings are directed include:

1) To integrate a building into its environment as much as possible, and to return back to nature a good part of what the constructional encroachment takes away; 2) A living surface on the roof shall arise alone with site-bound growth.

Other conscious reasons for earth-covered houses are to counteract the fraying of our landscape by urban sprawl, and to restore the functions of regulation and rehabilitation.
Earth cover and vegetation procure protection and safety, not only from the climate of wind and weather but also psychologically.Each of the nine homes has its own private underground garage, which residents can access from inside.
The roof designs of these buildings include sprayed-concrete domes, recycled glass insulation foam (25 cm thick), a root-resistant Polymer bitumen vapour barrier, geotextile fabric, and excavation material. Between 40 to 80 cm landfill and humus was derived from the building footprint, and was dumped on the roof crests.

Residents can use their rooftops however they choose, and as such some are planted as gardens, others used as sitting areas with shrubs. Many rooftops are not used at all, and are simply undulating meadows. All photos by Christine Thuring, except photos # 1 & # 11 by Peter Vetsch and # 3 by Desair, courtesy of Dr. Stephan Brenneisen.

Additional thumbnail photos:

South Korean participants on one of the 2005 World Green Roof Congress's 2-day excursions, Shi-won (Sunny) and Kwon, by the biotope pond in the centre of the earth-covered complex.The sprayed concrete technique promotes a cave appearance to the architectural designs.One of Vetsch's design postulates requires that the living roof surface shall arise solely from site-bound growth. Residents may use their rooftops however they please.  This resident has given a ceramic cow rule of their roof meadow.Wall abutments permit residents privacy, even from green roof enthusiasts.Earth House Estate L?ttenstrasse; Photo: Peter Vetsch
More project information and references follow:; Wagner, E. and C. Schubert-Weller. 1994. Earth and Cave Architecture von Peter Vetsch. Verlag Niggli AG. Sulgen, Switzerland; Vetsch, P. 2005. Earth houses - living under the ground. Keynote presentation from World Green Roof Congress, 15-16 September 2005. Basel, Switzerland. See more earth houses from architect Peter Vetsch's website here.
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