Murhof, St. Urban, Switzerland

Competition entry for the proposed Murhof, ‘Wohnen und Pflege‘ in St. Urban, Switzerland.

In winter 2020, VOSS Architects submitted a proposal for the open competition Murhof, Wohnen und Pflege, in St. Urban in the Canton of Lucerne (62 applications/ 43 submitted entries).

The competition entry was developed in collaboration with ZPF Ingenieure, Menarvis Landschaftsarchitektur, Amstein Walthert, PlanBar and Rapp Infra.

The Murhof retirement centre is located on the south-western sloping site of a former farm within sight of the St. Urban monastery, surrounded by orchards, fields and meadows. The historical ensemble is dominated by the baroque barn built in the 18th century. The chapel on the north side and the old farmhouse next to it complete the ensemble.

The proposed new building for the residence complements the existing Murhof with a volume that is based on the monastery barn in typology and form. The building takes up the dimensions and proportions of the barn, including its annexes, and continues them along the same axis to the west. The central single-storey pavilion with all the public functions of the centre is placed as a connecting element between the two buildings. With its entrance, the pavilion addresses the street, creates a reference to the chapel opposite and zones the northern courtyard area with the horse stable at the monastery barn.

Through its position, architectural form and orientation, the new retirement centre and the monastery barn enter into a dialogue with each other and with the surrounding cultural and natural landscape, create a counterpart in scale and thus become a new entity - the Murhof.

The separate, smaller buildings for assisted living on the southern slope are staggered against each other and reference the local agricultural buildings in their architectural language and materiality. The position and orientation of the buildings on the sloping terrain leave an unobstructed view from the Murhof to the St. Urban Monastery and the surrounding fields.

In terms of typology, spatial structure and architectural expression, the design for the Murhof retirement centre is based on the old rural farmhouses with stables barns in the Canton of Lucerne and interprets them in accordance with the requirements of use and the history of the monastery farm. The new building will be constructed as a timber structure on a concrete base, with timber cladding on the façade and roof. With regard to the construction time and costs, a simple basic geometry with a high repetition factor of identical or similar components is aimed for the timber construction. This approach allows for serial prefabrication, quick assembly on site and a shortened overall construction time. The materials used for the interior are robust and durable. Wood in various forms gives the rooms warmth and comfort for the residents. The rooms are equipped with built-in furniture in the window area and in the wet rooms. Large window areas and French balconies allow a connection to the surroundings.

The new Murhof and buildings for the assisted living will be constructed in two stages, with the retirement centre being built in two successive stages while the current centre is still in operation.


© VOSS Architects 2020

© MPVIS, Visualisierung