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 four grandchildren) and is married to the photographer Andrea Diglas. They live in a converted advertising agency building in Gockhausen, right on the Zurich city boundary and at times in Muralto in Ticino.
Selected personal advisory and expert mandates for companies, the public sector, universities and private individuals
Various Board of Directors mandates
- Member of the Board of Directors of Senn Resources AG, St. Gallen
- Member of the Board of Directors of Senn Development AG, St. Gallen
- Member of the Board of Directors of Senn Construction AG, St. Gallen
- Member of the Board of Directors of Senn Technology AG, St. Gallen
- Supervisory Board at OOS AG, Zurich
- Member of the Board of Directors of Pasquale Baurealisation AG, Zurich
- Member of the Board of Directors of EMG Holding AG, Rapperswil-Jona
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saturn SPV AG, Zurich
- Member of the Board of Directors of Nobilis Estate AG, Zurich
Various advisory mandates
- DXMA AG, Zurich
- Various medium and small architectural firms
- Advisory Board for Architecture and Urban Development, City of Wetzikon
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)
Current projects (a selection)
Real estate and location scouting
I like to look for specific properties or sites for clients, the more special and demanding the better, a selection:
- Replacement location / new premises for a museum in the city of Zurich.
- Replacement location / new venue for a large music event organiser in the city of Zurich
- Replacement location / new venue for a renowned music shop
"Josef wants to live"
Under this title, I led a working group on behalf of the Interessengemeinschaft Zentrum Hardbrücke (IGZH) that conducted a thorough examination of the City of Zurich's test planning. Our recommendation demonstrates that it is possible to create up to 500 affordable apartments on the vacated site, in addition to generating numerous job opportunities. To date, the City of Zurich has only included plans for a limited number of housing units for the elderly at that location. The article in Hochparterre was published in a special edition and provides additional details link to PDF.
During a two-day module at ETH Zurich for the MAS/CAS "Future Heritage," under the Chair of Historic Preservation and Building Research, I had the opportunity to introduce the students to the topic of "dealing with the existing building stock."
Since April I'm a member of the six-member advisory board for architecture and urban development of the city of Wetzikon, appointed by the city council (no link yet)
Member of the core team of IGZH (Interessengemeinschaft Zentrum Hardbrücke, Zurich West): Various urban planning interventions and developments
I was commissioned by the Hamasil Foundation, together with Köbi Gantenbein, to lead two workshops in October and November 2022 with a working group put together especially for this purpose. Under the programmatic title "Blühende Pfingstweide" (Blooming Pfingstweide), we are challenging a large-scale project on the Welti-Furrer site in the center of Zurich West, directly at Pfingstweidstrasse, which in our view is completely "out of time". But we don't just criticise, we also point out alternative options for taking action - deliberately flamboyant and thought-provoking, since we want to achieve change. In April 2023, a special issue of Hochparterre was published. Here you will find a link to the editorial as a PDF from this special issue.
Everything doesn’t always go to plan. But, in the end, even failure can bring progress. The «Re-Use» project for the legendary Huber Pavilions on ETH’s Hönggerberg campus provides a perfect example. Just two days before it was due to start, the project fell through.
Since the middle of this year (2022), I have had the chance to work with the renowned estate agents Nobilis Estate AG as a member of the Board of Directors. I am delighted to be able to bring the specialist real estate expertise that I’ve acquired over so many years to the Board.
Image: Andrea Diglas
The development of an extremely innovative and sustainable commercial building in Winterthur – the first commercial building accessible by bicycle.
Conversion concept for a vacant office property in Kreis 4 in Zurich with an innovative micro-business approach, as an alternative to a residential scenario; for a real estate fund.
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.
Life Sciences campus in the greater Basel area
On 4 building sites of the so-called BaseLink-area in Allschwil I co-initiated and -developed: Maincampus
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.
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.
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.
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:
*Properties for high-end, metropolitan retirement residences
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.
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 Atuprix award ceremony.
Planners suggest that 600 affordable apartments could be constructed in Zurich West
The IGZH working group criticizes the city of Zurich for not providing enough affordable housing at the Josef-Areal. Read the NZZ article about the area, the criticism, and my work in the IGZH.read more
Josef-Areal: Experts call for 500 non-profit apartments.
In the article by Tsüri.ch, the focus is on the plans of the city of Zurich for the Josef-Areal, the criticism from the IGZH working group, and the missed opportunity to make Zurich a more livable city.read more
Six recipes instead of one concept
Six recipes instead of one concept
Read in my article in "Hochparterre" why spatial concepts are doomed to failure and what should replace them.
Cuisine sans frontières
Scholarship for Garni Bar Post
Martin Hofer, scholarship founder and co-developer of the project, is pleased that "the most peripheral inn" in Switzerland (in Bergell) has won the first tender.
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.
Ideenwettbewerb Gaswerkareal und Brückenkopf West, BernMehr erfahren
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