Zurych 1930 Exhibition – Neubühl housing estate
September 19th –September 27th

The Neubühl model development located in the district of Wollishofen in Zurich was designed by seven Swiss architects: Max Ernst Haefeli, Carl Hubacher, Rudolf Steiger, Werner Moser, Emil Roth, Paul Artaria, and Hans Schmidt – a group of young swiss architects, all of them born towards the end of the 19th century and at that time about 30 years old. The original conception of the project was that it would be a collective and collaborative effort of the architects working together on everything from the planning conception to bathroom design and fittings.
The project comprised of blocks of flats (90 flats built in the system of one flat per floor and located – among others – in 3 gallery-access blocks) and 105 row-houses.
Assisted by their parents, five young architects acquired an attractive lot in the suburban district of Wollishofen. An internal competition was organised for the development’s planning conception and in the process of collective evaluation the design presented by Werner Moser was selected. Striving to preserve the view of the lake (towards the north-east) and the forested slope of Uetliberg, he proposed two new streets parallel to the already existing Niedelbadstrasse with rows of buildings arranged perpendicular to them. In order to provide a diversified offer of flats, the architects opted for a wide selection of floor plans.

The municipality agreed to credit the development on the condition that it would be completed in three stages and the investors re-apply for a new planning permit for each consecutive stage. Construction work began in the summer of 1930. By April 1st, 1931, the houses completed in the project’s first stage were ready for the residents to move into and in September of the same year the second phase came to completion. The second exhibition took place in February.
The Neubühl housing cooperative (Gemeinnützigen Baugenossenschaft Neubühl) did not sell the flats but let them out to its members. Since the construction costs had exceeded the initial estimates, the development’s sponsors had to accept losses in order to keep rents at an acceptable level. During the 1930’s recession, it became rather difficult to find tenants and even the architects originally involved in the project could no longer afford the high rents and had to move out.

In contrast to the Weissenhof development, where the lot had been donated by the city and its construction was financially supported by the RFG, the Zurich project had to compete on the market despite its focus on experimentation and the resulting higher costs. The Neubühl housing estate was not intended as a testing ground for yet untried experimental solutions and technologies: the financial risk involved would be too high. In order to realze the development, the Neubühl housing cooperative was founded: thus, municipal funds could be used to secure the second mortgage and the down-payments of prospective residents could be reduced to 10% of the total cost.
Of the 195 completed units, 105 were detached houses and 90 were flats (1 to 6 rooms) built in the system of one flat per floor or located in gallery-access blocks. Within the development 32 one-car garages, 4 retail stores, a primary school, a service apartment for the stoker, and two units that could be let out to some organisations or societies could be found. High hedges in lieu of fencing separated the gardens from the passageways.