I help to make people aware of spatial qualities and good architecture and find or create living spaces where all aspects of life can unfold by drawing on imagination and creativity, an understanding of efficiency and viability and all my experience as an architect, development adviser and ethicist.
Martin Hofer (*1955) has one adult daughter and two adult sons (and three granddaughters) and is married to the photographer Andrea Diglas. They live in a converted advertising agency building in Gockhausen, right on the Zurich city boundary.
Selected personal advisory and expert mandates for companies, the public sector, universities and private individuals
Various management mandates
- Supervisory Board at Senn Resources AG, St. Gallen
- Supervisory Board at Senn Development AG, St. Gallen
- Supervisory Board at Senn Construction AG, St. Gallen
- Supervisory Board at Senn Technology AG, St. Gallen
- Supervisory Board at OOS AG, Zurich
- Supervisory Board at Pasquale Baurealisation AG, Zurich
- Supervisory Board at EMG Holding AG, Rapperswil-Jona
Various advisory mandates
Founding partner of Wüest Partner AG, Zurich, long-standing member of the Executive Board, Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board of Directors
- Real estate development (analyses, plans, strategies)
- Complex and special valuations
- Expert activity
- Trend research
Practical work as an architect at his own office in Zurich
Education and further training
Advanced studies programme at the University of Zurich, Master in Applied Ethics (MAE) UZH
Project management training
Construction manager training
Architecture studies at ETH Zurich Master of Arts ETH (Architecture)
School education in Zurich (federal academic baccalaureate, type A)
Further development of a luxury residential complex in Central Switzerland
A few years ago, I had the opportunity with my company at the time to plan and run a competition among five renowned architectural firms for a professional developer.
The triumphant architectural firm has since completed the first of two stages on the approximately 50,000 m2 top plot in Central Switzerland. While the villas and apartments in condominium ownership built as part of this first stage have proven a huge hit on the market, the client wants to further optimise and differentiate the products during the second stage. I have permission to support the architects on behalf of the client.
Life Sciences campus in the greater Basel area
In 2015, I was tasked with looking for a plot of land on behalf of a developer/general contractor to house an innovative commercial building (modelled on the Nœrd in Zurich) in the greater Basel area.
I managed to strike gold in the north of the region, close to the French border, coming across a 75,000 m2 piece of wasteland with a total of 16 construction plots where an actual Life Sciences campus has since been built next to the industrial plants already located there. My client acquired a total of 11 construction plots, which have been developing into high-quality office/laboratory/commercial buildings with different functions since 2016 and are likely to be finished by 2030.
I am providing the client with conceptual and strategic support with all its projects.
In 2016, I and four other committed town residents had the idea of covering the SBB Seebahn-Graben line which runs straight through city districts 3 and 4 from Hohlstrasse to Wiedikon station, for once not to build on the site or compact it structurally, but to create a green park instead.
The park is approximately 1 km long and 30 to 50 m wide (about 40,000 m2) and is divided by intersecting streets into a chain of six individual parks, each with its own unique green character. The city councils thought our initiative was so important that Seebahn-Park was immediately included in the municipal structure plan. We are constantly developing the project further, secure in the knowledge that it is a project for the generations. Seebahn-Park is even more topical in the context of the climate debate – in the heat of summer in the city, it will act as a cold air corridor right at the hottest point of the urban settlement.
Radical environmental and economical residential complex in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley
After I helped a private land owner to sell their 13,000 m2 plot in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley, I am now advising the buyer – a smaller general contractor from Eastern Switzerland – on the development and construction of an innovative residential complex.
For this purpose, I have drawn up a radical 10-point plan which is encouragingly being implemented by the best planners on a consistent basis. Its key ideas are as follows: Ground level flexible living with gardens for everyone; no basement; no underground garage, no lifts; landscape architecture comes before architecture; mixed traffic (cars, non-motorised traffic, pedestrians) throughout the entire complex; an outbuilding for each apartment (e.g. a car garage or similar); single rooms for a small business or home office; the simplest of construction methods (prefabricated timber construction); environmentally decentralised building and energy technology (LowTech) etc. The aim is to lease the 40 or so terracedlike residential units for under CHF 2,000 per month.
Food hub in Zurich
Several innovative suppliers, manufacturers and distributors of regional food and drink decided to work together under one roof guided by a duo of renowned actors. Startups in this sector are also to be supported in this way. I have permission to advise and support the group with real estate matters.
Conversion of a former monastery in the Olten region
At the foot of the southern Jura mountains, a listed contemporary witness of concrete brutalism from the 1960s– for once, not a historical monastery – stands empty in an idyllic green location with the potential for new buildings to be constructed next to it. I am assisting architects from Zurich with the reposi-tioning or conversion plan and helping with the search for suitable investors.
Time and again: Architect coaching
I regularly advise architects and architectural firms on organisational and entrepreneurial matters, which could be anything from career or succession planning through to operational optimisation.
Project support for Bassersdorf residential complex
I had the opportunity to support an established and innovative Zurich-based architectural firm with an invited study contract for a premium residential complex in Bassersdorf. I am delighted that I was able to help win the competition by offering my conceptual and strategic consulting services. In the future, I will continue to support the client and the commissioned architects with project development and implementation (with a focus on marketing).
Expert and guide
I have been engaged by universities and other institutions to provide expertise or support time and again, as it is the case this example where I was approached by Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer to take on the role of Professor of Architecture and Construction at ETH for the 2020 autumn semester.
HORTUS – House of Research, Technology, Utopia and Sustainability
This is the working title of a project that involves a multidisciplinary team developing an extremely sustainable office and commercial building in Northwestern Switzerland with very low grey energy expenditure (no concrete, amortised within 25 years, etc.) and a target of zero emissions.
Real estate and location scouting
I enjoy searching for specific properties or plots for clients – the more unique and challenging the better. Currently, for example, I am looking for:
- industrial buildings/warehouses and plots for urban vertical farming
- romantic open-air concert locations
Participation in workshops
I am often invited to take part in multidisciplinary workshops as a seasoned expert, partly due to my skills as a lateral thinker or someone who thinks outside the box. Currently, for example, for:
- the conversion of an office/commercial building into apartments in Zürich-Nord (for a major real estate foundation)
- the transformation of an old urban commercial property into a new, sustainable collective in Zürich-Altstetten (for one of the key BVG Collective Foundations)
From time to time, I am invited to attend corporate or local authority events as a guest speaker – again usually labelled a lateral thinker or someone who thinks outside the box. Currently, for example, for the Building Department of the Canton Zurich.
From the avant garde to the mainstream
Reflections on collective spirit, deceptive packaging by professional operators and the phenomenon of co-working during an exciting panel discussionTo the article
As the guest speaker at a graduation ceremony at the HWZ, Martin Hofer reflected on public space and the value of mindful, sensory architecture.To the abstract
The “shell construction rental” magic formula
Martin Hofer in conversation with SSA Architekten about incapacitated tenants, the lack of residential expertise and new visions for living.To the article
A bunny for the “best”
Founded by Marin Hofer, the Senn Hochparterre company donates a prize in the “best” category to mark its 30th birthday. The first batch of best houses will be awarded a rabbit.To the article
When a factory becomes a home
In his book of the same name, Chris van Uffelen paints a picture of a former advertising agency in Gockhausen, which Martin Hofer suggested could be converted as part of a project development (two conversions and 25 residential studios). Today he lives there himself.Read more
Architecture and spatial planning in Switzerland
Use should be free. This is the opinion expressed by Martin Hofer in an interview with Dr Gregory Grämiger from the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETH ZurichTo the interview
The real estate whisperer
Martin Hofer is a networker and lateral thinker in the world of real estate. He recently left Wüest Partner and is talking to Hochparterre about valuations and data, investors and architects.To the article
Zurich’s real estate matchmaker
A conversation about the development of Zurich, urban living spaces and sustainability was published in "Companion", the 25hours Hotels magazine.To the article
Location manager 2016
In June 2016, Martin Hofer – along with his founding partner Hannes Wüest – was honoured for his many years of pioneering work in location management.To the award
Here are just a few examples representing a large number of references from the last 28 years. Projects which were aborted have also been included deliberately.
Grid, Allschwil, commercial complex for off̈ice, laboratory, teaching and creative staffMore
Culinarium Alpinum, Stans, conversion of the former Capuchin monasteryMore
Zwicky Süd, Dübendorf/Wallisellen, residential and commercial quarter in the agglomerationMore
Feldhäuser, Emmen, Alfred Schindler Foundation residential complex plotMore
MinMax, Opfikon, residential/commercial building with approx. 100 micro and cluster apartmentsMore
Tatort, Zurich Affoltern, drive-in commercial buildingMore
Noerd, Zurich, commercial building for creatives in Zürich NordMore
Smartinska, Ljubljana, urban expansion master planMore
Pentagon, Zurich, football stadium with commercial uses, winning project in a competitionMore
Balance, Wallisellen, 14 multi-family properties in condominium ownershipMore
Kurfürst, Zurich, speculation-free seven-family home with studios in condominium ownershipMore