Espenhof Nord, Zürich, Switzerland

Competition entry for the proposed housing development ‘SAW Alterswohnen Espenhof Nord’ in Zürich, 3rd prize.

In summer 2019, VOSS Architects took part in the open competition (80 applications / 40 entries submitted) for the new housing development ‘SAW Alterswohnen Espenhof Nord’ in Zürich and were awarded 3rd place / prize. The competition entry was developed in collaboration with ZPF Ingenieure, Menarvis Landschaftsarchitektur, Amstein Walthert and Rapp Infra.

The housing development for old-age people Espenhof Nord is located on a sloping site between Fellenbergstrasse and Langgrütstrasse in Zürich-Albisrieden. The proposed development consists of three offset L-shaped buildings with different heights and orientations.

The spaces between the existing and new buildings form three courtyards with different recreational qualities, which reflect the character of the existing Espenhof South and further develop it in line with the new requirements. The centre square in the middle of the plot links the courtyard to Espenhofweg and the surrounding area.

The apartments are accessed from the courtyards by a series of open walk ways/ deck access, which are inserted through the L-shaped buildings and separate the structures into individual volumnes. This allows the residents to find and identify their address easily.

The setting of the buildings in the urban context, their integration, development and internal structuring offers a balance between intimacy and openness towards the landscape, the architecture and the design of private, semi-private, semi-public and public areas.

The space program consists of 160 age-appropriate apartments (1, 1.5, 2 and 3 room apartments), a dementia department and cluster apartment, commercial premises and offices for Spitex as well as common rooms and a kindergarten.

The buildings are designed as a further development of the open walk ways/ deck access and courtyard typology of the existing Espenhof South and are constructed as wooden buildings on concrete pedestals. The appearance of the new Espenhof is characterised by these two materials. They are used according to their functions and determine the aesthetics of the new buildings.

The supporting structure is a prefabricated element construction. The plinth and the basement will be constructed in in-situ concrete. The load-bearing interior walls are designed as spruce/fir solid wood multilayer panels. The exterior walls are made of insulated wooden stud elements. The ceiling consists of prefabricated concrete elements.

The project was developed under consideration of the tight budget constraints. The requirements were taken into account by the positioning of the buildings, the compact building volume, the size of the apartments, the simple construction method and the materiality. The apartments have been developed on a modular basis and, with a few exceptions, are stacked on top of each other. The wooden elements, concrete floor slabs and all wet rooms including riser zones are continuous, standardised and prefabricated. The timber construction can therefore be carried out simply and as dry construction with a shortened construction period.


© VOSS Architects 2019

© MPVIS, Visualisation