Halen settlement

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Halensiedlung in December

The Halen settlement (also Halensiedlung ) is a modern row house building in Herrenschwanden , Kirchlindach near Bern (Switzerland). It was created between 1955 and 1962 by the architects Atelier 5 in a forest clearing high above the Aare and Halenbrücke . With its pioneering modern design, the Halensiedlung forms a self-contained residential area with 78 residential units and 5 studios, supplemented with common rooms and facilities. The Halen settlement is a cultural asset of national importance . With regard to architecture using concrete as a building material, it is ascribed to the architectural trend Brutalism , with regard to the type of settlement (configuration with the same building units) to structuralism .


At the beginning of the boom in the 1950s, the demand for living space in Switzerland grew rapidly. Faceless residential quarters with a strong traditional feel emerged on a green meadow. The sprawl of the landscape through the many detached single-family houses with a large space requirement did not seem to be stopped. With their project, the five young architects of the new "Atelier 5" set a striking contrast to this development. Her work for Hans Brechbühler , the architect of the Berner Gewerbeschule, and other great role models of the "New Objectivity" of architecture such as Otto Rudolf Salvisberg and the great Le Corbusier had shaped her way of thinking. Scarce finances forced the planners to use the available space sparingly and this is how the exemplary "Halen Estate" was created. Already admired by the curious at the time of construction, architecture tourists from all over the world still visit the modern monument today.


Village square
"Halegeist" by B. Luginbühl

Thanks to the entrance to the parking garage with its own petrol station built outside the settlement, the paths are car-free. At the village square with the grocery store and the common rooms, the residents meet under shady plane trees. The long-lost sculpture “Halegeist” by Bernhard Luginbühl is also on display there. Further above at the edge of the forest there is a sports field and swimming pool. The heating system stands out due to its high chimney and laundry rooms and drying rooms are centrally set up for common use. The individual residential units are closely grouped in three terraced rows on the public access paths, which are accessed through arcades.

The houses are built in the bulkhead construction . This allows a free division of the interior. Load-bearing partition walls are not required. Each house has a front garden (patio) that can be locked if required on the northern entrance side and opens to the south with large window fronts. The adjacent gardens are separated from the neighbors by screen walls.

There are two house types with 4 or 5 meters width, or 3.80 m and 4.80 m internal dimensions. The internal stairs as self-supporting steel structures connect the ground floor with the garden and the upper floor.

The garden level is accessed from the outside by a prefabricated concrete staircase with staggered steps on half the area ("Samba staircase"). The walls and ceilings were initially left in raw exposed concrete.

The floors in the semi-outdoor area are predominantly made of exposed aggregate concrete. A specially developed oak cube mosaic parquet was used to save costs in the living area, linoleum was laid in the rooms and vinyl asbestos panels were laid in the wet areas. Simple kitchens and bathrooms are arranged like the stairs in the middle of the house.

The residents can adapt the interior to their personal preferred style, which is how the most varied of apartments were created. The limited living space, however, forces a strict selection of the necessary furnishings and is also the trigger for the residential philosophy of the Halensiedlung.

Building history

In 1955 the architectural community acquired the property. The obstacle-ridden financing was achieved with the help of the entrepreneur Ernst Göhner, who is experienced in settlement construction . The knowledge gained from the construction of the Flamatt1 houses also helped with the planning based on the example of Bern's old town and drafts for “La Sainte-Baume and Roq and Rob” by Le Corbusier. The building permit was granted in 1956 and the building project ended after 4 years of construction. Because prefabricated elements were not available from the few Swiss suppliers at affordable prices, contrary to the original intention, the outer walls were made with “Durisol” bricks, the partition and fire walls with bricks, the plinths, ceilings and sun visors with in-situ concrete. Only the railing and the outside stairs could be installed as prefabricated concrete parts.

Advertising and sales

The architects themselves advised interested parties and sold the houses. A novelty at the time: the buyers became co-owners of the community facilities. Well-known designers and furniture manufacturers were invited to equip the first model house. It turned out, however, that this facility ran counter to the actual ambition (the sale of the houses), and so it was replaced by contour profiles. The work of art made available by Bernhard Luginbühl was also removed and, at his request, "raffled" in the area. The last residential unit was sold in 1963.

The residents

First the architects themselves and with them modern-thinking artists, academics and open-minded young families moved into the new settlement, most of them stayed there for their entire lives. Some well-known personalities have their living and working space in the Halen. Among others, the designer and artist Hans Eichenberger , who designed the furnishing of the common rooms and whose designs helped shape the style of living in the Halensiedlung.

Halensiedlung today

The Halen settlement is a multi-part object in the Swiss inventory of cultural assets of national importance as well as in the inventory of places worthy of protection in Switzerland .

50 years and two generations after construction, the pioneers' grandchildren are already living in the aging houses. You will have the task of tackling the urgently needed optimization of the heating system because of the high oil consumption. In addition, the renewal of the insulation and the complete renovation of the flat roofs and facades with the protection of the concrete reinforcement are urgently needed. Some things were resolved in emergencies through individual actions, but building economically requires joint planning and action.


  • Heinz J. Zumbühl ea (Ed.): Halen settlement. Milestone of modern settlement architecture , Bern 2010, ISBN 978-3-258-07616-4
  • The children of the Halen settlement . Simowa Verlag Bern (Sachbuchverlag Stämpfli AG), 2005, ISBN 3-908152-24-0
  • Esther and Fritz Thormann: Residence Halen. An architecture report . Niggli Verlag, Teufeln 1972 (now Sulgen / Zurich).

See also

Web links

Commons : Siedlung Halen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Brechbühler. In: arch INFORM .
  2. Brechbühler in g26 ( Memento from October 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Flamatt 1 (PDF)
  4. Hans Eichenberger at straessle-switzerland ( memento of the original from December 25, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.straessle.biz
  5. ^ A objects BE 2018 . Swiss inventory of cultural assets of national importance. In: babs.admin.ch / kulturgueterschutz.ch. Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP - Department of Cultural Property Protection, January 1, 2018, accessed on January 9, 2012. (PDF; 212 kB, 47 pages, updated annually, the changes for 2018 are marked in blue).

Coordinates: 46 ° 58 ′ 22 "  N , 7 ° 24 ′ 48"  E ; CH1903:  598075  /  202,412