Huebergass and District Park Bern, Swiss residential architecture images, Switzerland property design news

The Huebergass and District Park in Bern

28 July 2023

Design: GWJ Architektur AG

Location: Bern, Switzerland

Huebergass Bern,

Images by Damian Poffet and Susanne Goldschmied

The Huebergass and District Park, Switzerland

Huebergass Bern

The “Huebergass”: this is how inclusivity, affordability – and sustainability work

The residential project Huebergass und Stadtteilpark Holligen (Hueber Lane and district park Holligen) in the Swiss
capital of Bern was developed in a collaborative process. Due to its many sustainable aspects, it has recently been
showcased at the UIA Congress in Copenhagen.

The Huebergass in Bern already meets in many ways the sustainability targets set out by the UNO. These targets
were also the subject of the UIA Congress in Copenhagen. The development, together with three other projects from
Switzerland, was presented at the congress. As the more than one hundred apartments have been occupied for two
years now, an assessment can be made as to if and how the ambitious targets were met. The concept was
developed by GWJ Architektur (Bern), ORT für Landschaftsarchitektur – landscape architects – (Zurich), and the
social partner Martin Beutler (Soziale Plastik, Bern), who jointly appearing as a planning team worked in a
collaborative process together with the cooperative “Wir sind Stadtgarten”.

Huebergass Bern,

As is now common in many other cities, housing is scarce in Bern, especially if it also has to be affordable. That is
why the municipality decided to provide an area of gardens from their landbank for development, along with a park.
The conditions were as follows: the new project in the Holligen quarter was to be social, ecological, and
economically sustainable. It was also envisaged that the new quarter should be diverse, allowing for a range of
different lifestyles, and that it should promote neighbourly living. Even before the structures and their layouts went
into planning, concepts for meeting these targets were being worked on. A competition was launched that
established the above-mentioned team of planners, as in a comprehensive, complex participative process urban
planning, open spaces and architecture had to be developed from the beginning as a whole.

Communicative and neighbourly

Huebergass Bern,

The result of this process is a housing estate comprising of six units, which, together with the district park, connects
in terms of urban planning, architecture, and social composition with the surrounding existing environment and
influences it. Three permeable linear developments to the north consolidate the urban fabric and create a link with
the existing surrounding buildings. The three developments to the south, on the other hand, open up towards the
park. The most significant device that joins everything together is a well-known typology: a laneway between the
buildings. It is the centre and backbone of the entire concept. It is the pulsating axis, along which all communal and
private areas of the project are aligned: pathways cross and meetings are held here.

Huebergass Bern,

It provides access to the apartments, as well as all the communal areas – such as the neighbourhood-run café, the
function room, laundrette, and ateliers. The conspicuous porches that are aligned along the lane are made from
timber and house a combination of stairwells and private balconies, allowing for open communication as soon as the
residents leave their apartments. The defined target was to perpetuate the preexisting with a further piece of
neighbourhood which would allow for thresholds, transitional areas, neighbourhoods between inside and outside,
between quarter, gardens, and environment.

Huebergass Bern

Compact and sufficient

The total energy use was reduced and the entire footprint of the buildings themselves dedicated to habitable spaces
by placing the eleven stairwells that provide access to the 103 residential units in front of the structures themselves.
All apartments are dual aspect, which has a positive effect on the indoor climate, lighting, and comfort. Most of them
are two- and three-bedroom apartments, but there are also smaller units, as well as a cluster-apartment with up to
six bedrooms. All rooms are equally sized, so that their use can be flexibly adapted according to needs and lifestyles.

In addition, there are also guest and joker rooms, as well as communal areas available to the residents. Instead of
having the more common 45 m² per person, the rooms here are calculated at 25 m². This efficient use of space makes
it possible to offer the apartments at an affordable rent, even undercutting the original level of rent per square metre
envisaged by the awarding local authority. The simple, clearly defined structures themselves, compact building
volumes in aspect to the useable floor area, and reduced basements as well as simple and clear choice of materials,
and a high degree of repetition in structural elements, such as windows and doors, all also contribute towards
making this possible.

Huebergass Bern

Included in the rent is the use of the communal areas and a mobility service provided by “bernmobil”. A special
carsharing offer and a mobility fonds make sure that the car-free Huebergass remains decelerated and an
environmentally friendly way of mobility is promoted.

Biodiversity and social diversity

Huebergass Bern

The park is accessible to the public and part of the quarter – an open space providing possibilities to everyone and to
all their different needs. But there are also brownfield areas, in which vegetation is allowed to spread uncontrolled,
generous retention spaces and as little sealed ground as possible.

The generous stock of trees and the plane tree
avenue surrounding the former garden area were left standing. The final appearance of the external areas was
decided on in a participative process. At first an urban gardener moderated the initiatives that came from the
residents. Trials on a “pre-park” area were later incorporated into the final park design. This led to a participatively
used and run park, and the district park became a learning park – the communal engagement continues in this vibrant
development and beyond.

Huebergass and District Park, Bern, Switzerland – Building Information

Details of the architectural bureau

Name of the architectural bureau: GWJ Architektur AG
Address: Nordring 4A, Postfach, 3001 Bern, Switzerland

Huebergass Bern

Project details

Name of the building: Huebergass and district park Bern, Switzerland
Street, house number: Huebergass 3-13
Postcode, Town: 3008 Bern
Country: Switzerland

Intended use: Housing cooperative, 103 build-to-rent apartments (1 to 4 bedroom, as well as larger cluster
apartments), daycare centre, 10 garden rooms, underground parking for 23 cars

Order type: Investment and project competition, overall winner 2017
Building contractor: Immobilien Stadt Bern
Users: Housing cooperative
Management: not-for-profit building association, WBG “Wir sind Stadtgarten”, Bern
Project manager: Eva Herren, GWJ

Huebergass Bern

Name of photographer: Damian Poffet and Susanne Goldschmied

Key figures

Entry competition: August 2017
Building permit: July 2018
Planning: 2017–2021
Construction period: 2019-2021

Phase one, preparations: 2017-2021
Phase two, interior Commencement of interior work House A: March 2020
Completion: December 2020

Relative elevations Reference elevation ±0.00 = 539.49 m MSL = house D and E
Reference elevation ±0.00 = 539.40 m MSL = house A,B,C
Building height 12.10 m / 12.22 m

Number of storeys: Ground floor, first to third floor, basement
Total floor area 10,958 msq
Net floor area 13,131.25 msq

Roof area: 2,705.6 msq towards heated / 113.9 msq towards unheated

Rental space (incl. usage)
Total rental space: 8,484 msq
Communal areas total: 470 msq (Joker room, cooperative rooms, function rooms, café)

Number of apartments: 103 units, of which

9 x 1.5 room apartments
19 x 2.5 room apartments
22 x 3.5 room apartments
35 x 4.5 room apartments
14 x 5.5 room apartments
3 x 7.5 room apartments
1 x 9.5 room apartments

GWJ Architektur AG, Bern

GWJ is an architectural business with fifty employees from ten nations that works throughout Switzerland. Together with clients, users, and a selection of specialists, GWJ has been developing social, economic, and environmentally friendly projects.

The aim of GWJ is to create sustainably attractive spaces for people and society, which allow for future developments and enable a considerate resource management. On a comprehensive scale GWJ works in architecture, urban planning, and public spaces. GWJ builds projects for living and working, for education and healthcare. Further information can be found German)

ORT für Landschaftsarchitektur, Zurich

ORT für Landschaftsarchitektur landscape design plan from comprehensively thought-out urban planning to specific projects; from densification to unsealing; from climate, biodiversity, and vegetation to space and form, from study to design to build: ORT für Landschaftsarchitektur landscape design is convinced that complex questions and the scope of our profession are best served in cooperation with other disciplines. This is why we operate openly and collaboratively -internally as well as with planning partners and clients. Further information can be found (in German)

Soziale Plastik, Bern

Since 1989 Martin Beutler’s Soziale Plastik has been developing social innovation. The bureau has, for example, developed utilisation concepts, strategies for public spaces.

It moderates participative processes or identifies new potential of spatial structures, often in cooperation with (landscape) architects and local authorities. Tinu Beutler has previously operated in art, urban planning, and technology. The developed and supported projects have contributed to cohabitation and the development of formal and informal networks. Further information can be found
(in German)

Huebergass and District Park Bern images / information received 280723 from GWJ Architektur AG

Location: Bern, Switzerland

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