Espenhof Nord retirement home


Langgrütstrasse, 8047 Zürich

Type of contract

Competition, 1st Prize 2019

Construction period



Stiftung Alterswohnungen der Stadt Zürich SAW


ARGE with Theres Hollenstein Architektur GmbH


planetage gmbh, Zürich

Civil engineering

Borgogno Eggenberger + Partner AG, St.Gallen

HVAC planning

Pfenninger & Partner AG, Zürich

The Espenhof retirement community is located in a residential area in Zurich-Albisrieden, between the wide-open grounds of the municipal nursery and the Letzi school building. Characteristic of the neighbourhood are the view axes that open up as one moves through it, and the views deep into the individual plots, with their dense mature tree stock. Today, the existing buildings of the retirement community no longer fully meet the needs for living in old age. While Espenhof South will be preserved as a witness of its time, the replacement building Espenhof North will take the opportunity to create more living space and implement innovative concepts. More

Three typologically strongly related buildings of different heights form an ensemble and interweave the new retirement community with the heterogeneous surroundings and the landscape. Along Fellenbergstrasse and Langgrütstrasse, two lower extensions accompany the street spaces. They create an appropriate scale and leave the view of the Albis chain of hills unobstructed. Towards the centre of the site, the buildings form “heads” that create references to the existing trees and formally tie the three buildings together into a single unit. A concise and public focal point is established in the new arrangement. The significant tree population is largely preserved and supplemented with aspen and oak trees. All public and semi-public uses are arranged on the ground floor, as well as ground-floor apartments with direct access via the access walkway.
The majority of the 155 apartments are 2.5-room apartments. They are organised around a central zone with kitchen, bathroom and cloakroom and are oriented east-west. On the courtyard side, there is a generous entrance and dining area with direct access to the communal loggia, which is each shared by two apartments. In the heads and on the street side across the corner, the staircases are organised as multiple flights. These apartments are also oriented on two sides via corner windows and are characterised by their proximity to the treetops and views into the open spaces. All apartments benefit from access to a communal loggia as well as to an individual outdoor space to the east or west.
The new buildings respond to the heterogeneous surroundings with a natural restraint that is nevertheless reminiscent of buildings from the surrounding garden city suburb. A filigree wooden structure vertically divides the facade. On the ground floor, the wooden supports leading downwards accompany the pergola. This motif is reminiscent of the listed building of Espenhof South opposite, and encloses the courtyard space at the heart of the site.

Balcony view
Model photography: Lukas Walpen
View from Langgrütstrasse
Ground floor plan
2nd and 3rd floor plans
Fellenbergstrasse elevation
East elevation
Courtyard elevation
Apartments in the building's "head"
Floor plan of a 1.5-room-apartment on the ground floor
View from Espenhofweg
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