Birmensdorferstrasse Zurich

The cityscape in the Werd district is characterized by buildings that are, as a rule, directly located on the edge of the road and alternate between closed and open construction. Here, we find not only the strictly limited street space but also an increasing number of 5-storey buildings linked to a programme of shops on the ground floor, which are a familiar sight in many European cities and which – as in Rome with Giulio Romano or Max Fabiani and Adolf Loos in Vienna – also include mezzanine floors and the more enclosed upper floors. Our programme corresponds to this type with a ground-floor Caritas shop and community rooms on the upper floors, where Christian associations operate a common hall with their offices. This is why the building design takes on the character of an “upright”, which is expressed here by means of a bay window and the window arrangement as well as the distribution of the full surfaces. Everything is aimed at increasing the architectural means of expression towards the centre in combination with an emphasis on a single wall section of the front façade, the bay window. The strict symmetry with the central shop window is superimposed and, at the same time, tensed by the asymmetry of the entrances, which find their expression in their very diversity.


The depth of the shop and the coherent uses on the upper storeys make a separated courtyard building seem obsolete. The rear gradation towards the courtyard takes on the height of the maximum two full storeys and introduces them into a strongly rhythmic gradation of the volume, completely in contrast to the flat main façade on Birmensdorferstrasse.

In the end, like Adolf Loos, we believe that a city does not emerge from the neighbourhood to the coal shovel from a strict set of rules. We think that a characteristic diversity best serves the preservation of the city district.



CLIENT: Albert Niedermann-Hartmann-Foundation



Markus Peter, Patrick Rinderknecht, Alice Hucker

Leonie Amsler, Christoph Erni, Patrick Heller

CIVIL ENGINEER: Nänny + Partner AG, St. Gallen

TRAFFIC: IBV Hüsler AG, Zurich

LAW: Gfeller Budliger Kunz Rechtsanwälte, Zurich

RENDERINGS: Besa Zajmi, Zurich

ground floor plan

upper floor plans

axonometric view load bearing structure

Street view

courtyard view


Street view