Kalkbreite - an urban laboratory

more than a year ago

Since the new Kalkbreite urban development opened this August, it’s been the talk of the town. Nearly everybody we know locally has been to take a peek at this urban experiment at the end of Zurich’s Langstrasse. The modern architecture, the alternative residential arrangements and the restaurants, shops and cinema make it a must-see for visitors too.

New Kalkbreite is more than just another residential development. The Cooperative Kalkbreite which devised and developed it is dedicated to inventing a new way of living in the city – one which is ecological, culturally diverse and ready for tomorrow. One aim was to meet the requirements of the 2000-watt society – i.e. keeping energy consumption under 2000 watts per person, or 48 kilowatt-hours per day, which is just a third of what we typically consume in Western Europe. The experimental living arrangements are one of the keys to this. Some residents live in so-called cluster flats which share one central common room and a large kitchen, while all the private units have a mini-kitchen and a bathroom.

This uses less space and energy than living in a normal flat – but you still get more privacy than in the kind of standard flat-share you may remember from your student days. It also means you can choose to live on your own without the risk of getting miserably lonely, you just have to pop to the kitchen for a chat. Another living arrangement at Kalkbreite is the community household, where a dozen flats share a common dining space and a professional chef who cooks dinner. There is also shared office space for rent, as well as so-called joker rooms which residents can rent temporarily e.g. for putting up their extended family. Kalkbreite residents are not allowed to own a car, saving more energy. The development does have a huge garage – but it’s only for the trams, which were actually here first. Kalkbreite was built on the grounds of a tram depot and the trams still have their home in its belly.


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Over a year ago
Charlotte Algreen
Copenhagen, Denmark
Going to experience this tomorrow 😊
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