Rainbow House is home to colourful groups with colourful concerns in a colourful district of Zurich. Over 30 LGBTIQ+ associations occupy one hundred square metres in the customs house of the Kalkbreite Cooperative. This is the first time in Switzerland that so many LGBTIQ+ communities with various issues are working, thinking and interacting under one roof. Rainbow House is a point of contact, a library, a meeting place, a venue and a work space all at once.
To meet these different requirements, we had to design a space with an elongated floor plan and two glass fronts. What was the best way to address the different public and private aspects in these conditions?
The large room is divided into three units by means of mirrored sliding walls that provide soundproofing: a multipurpose room with a kitchenette, a library and a reception with a work area. Based on the Ballroom Scene, the House of Colour, House of Fluid and House of Books were created. Moving the mirrors is a performative act that pushes boundaries. In the mirror, the surroundings are set in motion and the space changes.
A wall of shelving in the entrance separates this area from a work bunk with desks that can be pulled out of the cupboards. The shelves can be adjusted to different
heights, as can the folding tables, which can be attached to the shelves as required.
The central idea of this extension was to design a changeable interior that offers permeability but also withdrawal. We translated this by layering the long window façade with six window units. Each unit is at once a book- shelf and a seating recess where users can linger in the depths of the façade, between the inside and the outside. On the outside of the window unit there are narrow latti- ce frames that can be used in a variety of ways, such as displaying posters with event information or for lighting.
Two different curtains can be drawn around the element. The curtains play with the concept of dressing up. Now light and translucent, now heavy and darkening, they present different references to the outside and withdraw inside to create different moods.
The back wall of the room is fitted with a height- adjustable shelving unit. Vertical metal girders wedged between the floor and ceiling support raw wooden shelves. The shelf can be dismantled into its three basic components and reused elsewhere.
Our basic idea with this project is also expressed in its direct materialization: to create a discreet framework that only the users, in all their diversity, can complete.