Neubau Gemeindeverwaltung

Hofstetten-Flüh, Switzerland
1st prize,  2021

The municipality of Hofstetten-Flüh in Solothurn has a rich history and is characterized by its historical and rural buildings, which reveal the village’s long-standing traditional building culture. The winding streets are defined by grand gable roofs of the farmstead houses, the warm grey and muted colors of the stucco facades, and the typical green forecourts bordering the streets.

Picture of the surrounding buildings

Located on the central village square, the project comprises a newly constructed town hall with the village’s administrative offices, a new market hall, and the transformation of the 19th-century school building into a community center with cultural and recreational spaces for the inhabitants of Hofstetten-Flüh.

Sketch explaining the organisation of the site

The project divides the program into two building volumes. The main building with the municipal administration is proudly positioned along the Ettingerstrasse and is conceived as a counterpart to the representative school building. The new barn-like market hall is smaller in scale and is positioned along the parcel boundary. By learning from the existing typologies of the village the new proposal successfully relates to the surrounding buildings in terms of identity, dimensions, and proportions.

Framed by the ensemble of three buildings, the newly designed village square will become a lively place to meet, to stay, to sit, to wait, and to look at the community life of Hofstetten-Flüh. The materialization of the square is deliberately kept simple and searches for harmony with the surrounding. The existing linden trees will be kept and will provide shade during the summer months.

The voting and meeting room under the elaborate timber roof

The program of the new town hall is organized over three floors. The office spaces, accessible to the public during the day, are located on the ground and first floor. The plan of the office spaces is organized by a central room, from where the visitors have access to the administrative services. The central room is framed by an enfilade of office spaces, creating a sense of spatial continuity. The voting and meeting rooms of the council are located on the top floor, underneath the elaborate timber structure, tracing the shape of the sculptural roof.

Study sketch of the existing building

The reconversion of the 19th-century school into a community center for the village started with carefully studying the existing building and protecting as much as possible the as found qualities: the beautiful attic with its elaborate wooden structure, the deep and sturdy masonry walls, and the protected facades. A few precise interventions unlock the potential of the former school building and create a series of flexible rooms to be used by the inhabitants of Hofstetten-Flüh. A centrally positioned public staircase enables a flexible room division per floor, a lightweight extension of the ground floor includes the music rehearsal rooms and creates a wheelchair-accessible entrance, and an added sky window gives daylight to the impressive attic.

Facade detail

The proposed materiality of the painted wooded panels, the warm grey metal windows, the subtle red tone of the concrete plinth, and pigmented zinc roofs creates a visual connection to the muted earth colors of the built context. The two new buildings will be constructed as a timber structural system. By continuing the long-lasting tradition of timber construction in the canton of Solothurn, the local wood industry and local craftsmanship are preserved and supported. The timber elements will be locally sourced, which will significantly reduce energy consumption and will shorten the production cycle.

Location: Hofstetten-Flüh, Switzerland
Year: 2021
Type: public building, refurbishment
Client: Gemeinde Hofstetten-Flüh
Collaboration: SKALA - Landschaft, Stadt, Raum