Kinderspital Zürich
Zurich, Switzerland
Competition 2011-2012, project 2014 - planned completion 2024

The Institution of the Children’s Hospital in Zurich

The University Children’s Hospital has been operated by the Eleonoren Foundation since 1874. An international competition launched in 2011 called for a new facility in combination with pioneering hospital architecture. The call for proposals specified the client’s requirements as follows: “We wish to create an atmosphere in which children of all ages and their parents will feel as sheltered and comfortable as possible despite their personal circumstances, and a facility that is architecturally and functionally designed to optimize treatment procedures and the work of the staff.”  Herzog & de Meuron won the two-phase competition in 2012.


The mandate of the Children’s Hospital is to supply highly specialized care of children in conjunction with research, teaching, and the fostering of a new generation of academics in the field of child healthcare. The 200-bed hospital is the largest in Switzerland for both inpatient and outpatient care of children and adolescents. The new project in Zurich-Lengg will replace the facility in the Hottinger quarter, which has long outgrown its current capacity.


The Healthcare Campus in Lengg

The site in Zurich-Lengg lies on the outskirts of the city in a leafy residential district, which is also an important recreational neighborhood for residents of Zurich. Geologically, Burghölzli, as the hill is called, is a protected glacial landscape. Two plots of land on a proverbially green meadow have been earmarked for the new project, which is to be integrated in a campus of institutions devoted to various aspects of healthcare. A close neighbor is the Psychiatric University Clinic (PUK), also known as “Burghölzli,” housed in a listed building of 1869 designed by Johann Caspar Wolff.


The New Children’s Hospital

The project for the Children’s Hospital in Zurich consists of two buildings: the hospital and a research center. The hospital, on the site to the south, is a distinctly horizontal, three-story structure opposite the “Burghölzli”. The main entrance, a large gate, is exactly opposite the portal of the historical building. The concave gesture of the main façade creates a spacious forecourt for both institutions.

A holistic concept underlies the project, unlike the conventional layout of hospital buildings. These tend to consist of various, often relatively high tracts, which may give patients the impression that they are being shifted back and forth between departments that are separate and distinct and do not work together. The large horizontal shape of the hospital defines the holistic nature of the building, characterized from inside out by a delicacy of material detail.


The words ‘horizontal’ and ‘holistic’ describe the two basic principles, devised by Herzog & de Meuron to meet the requirements of a hospital architecture that responds specifically to the needs of patients and staff. These principles already played a decisive role in 2002 for the REHAB Basel, a special clinic for neuro-rehabilitation and paraplegiology, and apply to another healthcare project underway in Hillerød, Denmark: the New North Zealand Hospital.


The Children’s Hospital follows an urban grid with streets, intersections, and squares. The functions or departments correspond to neighborhoods. Every floor has a main street. Several green inner courtyards varying in size provide daylight and structure the right-angled layout of the rooms. Nature penetrates deep into the building. Some of the courtyards, round in shape, are arranged along the main street where there is access to the most important areas of the hospital.


The ground floor with its large round entry is the most public zone within the hospital. It accommodates the main facilities for examination and treatment with the highest visitor and patient frequency as well as emergency room, intensive care, and operating rooms. Restaurant and access to therapy services on the first lower level are located right next to the entrance; the latter are connected directly to the garden for patients. On the second floor, both sides of the main street are flanked by further divisions of the polyclinic, which are in turn surrounded by an office landscape oriented towards the outside, with some 600 workplaces for medical and administrative personnel.


The top floor is the most private area of the hospital. Four wards form quadrants in which a total of 114 rooms are arranged in a ring structure oriented towards the outside. Each of the rooms is designed like a little house with its own roof, ensuring privacy for the young patients and their relatives in combination with an expansive view. Inside, four therapeutic divisions—cardiology, oncology, nephrology, and the center for brain injuries—are located along the main street, where children and adolescents can receive transdisciplinary treatment and care in the immediate vicinity of their own rooms. The divisions correspond to the special areas addressed in the research center nearby.


The façade of the hospital is a weave of various materials. The primary, repetitive concrete framework is part of the support structure and resembles shelves usable at both ends that bracket the first and second floors. The framework may be filled in with wood, glass, fabric, or plants to meet the needs of the rooms behind it, such as simultaneous requirements of daylight and privacy. The complex inner life of the hospital with its diversity of uses can thus be perceived from the outside. The third floor, with patient accommodations, speaks a language of its own. It is set back from the concrete structure of the two floors below. Each of the rooms can be identified for they are staggered in arrangement with roofs of varying inclines: the little houses lend expression in an elementary, understandable way to the individuality of each patient.


Building for Laboratory, Teaching, and Research

The building is located on the parcel to the north. It is a cylindrical, white structure in which rooms for university hospital uses are organized around a center as a leitmotif for collaboration. A sky-oriented, five-story high atrium provides a central space for researchers. An agora for teaching spreads out underneath, relating directly to the surrounding landscape. The two superimposed main spaces of the building are like communicating vessels, connected by a small, round opening in the ceiling – an oculus.


Three lecture halls are pressed like steps into the hollow of the existing topography. Daylight comes in from outside. Fitted with operable partitions, the halls can be converted into a large space with lobby and café. For special events, an agora can thus be created for an audience of 670 people, like an ancient theater with a stage in the center. This is expanded above into a gallery, with desks for students. Adjoining seminar rooms on the same floor complete the accommodations for university study at the Children’s Hospital. Research and diagnostic laboratories as well as attendant offices with permanent workplaces are organized along the façades of the upper five stories. They offer an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape. Open writing desks for doctoral students and laboratory staff line the atrium and provide visual lines of contact across several stories.


From the outside, the building speaks an abstract formal idiom with a clear-cut geometry and few materials. Cantilevered balconies with white stucco railings and glazing set far back make the building look both heavy and airy at once.


The two very different buildings of the Children’s Hospital are mutually complementary. The hospital emphasizes the individual: every single patient and the attendant healing process. The Building for Laboratory, Teaching, and Research clearly demonstrates the conviction that pioneering breakthroughs in research are possible only through transdisciplinary scientific cooperation.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2017


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Christine Binswanger (Partner in Charge)
Project Team: Michael Schmidt (Associate, Project Director), Martin Fröhlich (Associate, Project Director), Mark Bähr (Associate, Project Manager), Alexander Sadao Franz (Associate, Project Manager), Birgit Föllmer (Associate, Project Manager), Michael Bär (Associate), Andrea Erpenbeck (Associate), Victoria Collar Ocampo, Marc Anton Dahmen, Eva-Lotta Danwerth, João Da Silva Moreira, Michael Drobnik (Digital Technologies), Nicholas Dunkel, Silja Kathrin Ebert, Alessandro Farina, Kim Gartmann, Daniel Grenz, Borja Goñi, Christian Hahn, Anna Hernandez Garcia, Philipp Henestrosa, Yuko Himeno, Ryoko Ikeda, Marina Karova, Chang-Sup Kim, Johannes Rudolf Kohnle, Daniel Koo, Matthias Leutert, Ruizhe Liang, Raúl Mera, Klaus Molterer, Stefan van Nederpelt, Anja Oertel, Monica Ors (Associate), Jakob Passering Vesna Petrovic, Corsin Raffainer, Francisco Ramos Ordóñez, Magdalena Stadler, Paula Strunden, Miluo Teeling, Yves Wanger, Yaobin Yuan, Joanna Zabinska

Competition Team: Jason Frantzen (Associate, Project Manager), Mark Bähr (Project Manager), Alexandria Algard, Maximilian Beckenbauer, Alexander Sadao Franz, Ondrej Janku, Christoph Jantos, Johannes Kohnle, Severin Odermatt, Blanca Bravo Reyes, Raúl Torres Martín, Mika Zacharias


Kinderspital Zürich – Eleonorenstiftung, Zurich, Switzerland


Client Representative:  
Martin Vollenwyder, Präsident Stiftungsrat
Heini Brugger, Vorsitz Baukommission
Françoise de Vries, Vorsitz Steuerungsausschuss Bau
Thomas Hardegger, Gesamtprojektleiter
(KOMOXX GmbH Planung & Projektmanagement )


Architect Planning

ARGE KISPI Gruner AG | Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Landscape Design
Künzel Landschaftsarchitekten AG, Basel, Switzerland
Electrical Engineering
Amstein + Walthert AG, Zurich, Switzerland
HVAC Engineering
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Plumbing Engineering
ing-büro riesen Bern AG, Bern, Switzerland
Structural Engineering
ZPF Ingenieure AG, Basel, Switzerland
Cost Consultant
Gruner AG , Basel, Switzerland
Technical Coordination
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland


Civil Engineering

Ernst Basler + Partner AG, Zurich, Switzerland
Facade Engineering
Pirmin Jung Ingenieure für Holzbau AG, Rain, Switzerland
Buri Müller Partner GmbH, Burgdorf, Switzerland
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Dr. H. Jäckli AG, Zurich, Switzerland
Licht Kunst Licht AG, Berlin, Germany
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Basler & Hofmann West AG, Zollikofen, Switzerland
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Fire Protection
Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Audio Planning
RGBP AG, Thalwil, Switzerland
Building Physics & Acoustic
Kopitsis Bauphysik AG, Wohlen, Switzerland
Gastronomy Planning
Creative Gastro Concept und Design AG, Hergiswil, Switzerland
Bächtold & Moor AG, Bern, Switzerland
Hospital Planning / Medical Equipment
IBG, Aarau, Switzerland
KOMOXX GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland
Vertical Transportation and Logistics
AS Intra Move, Rheinfelden, Germany
Visualization (Competition)
Bloomimages, Hamburg, Germany


Site Area:
46'650 m², 502'137 sqft
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 94'026 m², 956'105 sqft
Footprint: 21'480 m², 187'292 sqft




Irina Davidovici: H: Hospital-as-City. The Healthcare Architecture of Herzog & de Meuron.
In: Adam Jasper (Ed.). gta papers. Social Distance. Vol. No. 5, Zurich, gta, ETH Zurich, 2021. pp. 118-131.


Julia Moellmann: Ausgewählte Beispiele. Universitätsklinik: Universitäts- Kinderspital Zürich.
In: Julia Moellmann, Wolfgang Sunder, Oliver Zeise (Eds.) et al. Das Patientenzimmer. Planung und Gestaltung. Basel, Birkhäuser, 2021. pp.158-160.

Also published in English: Selected Case Studies. Hospitals: Children's University Hospital Zurich.
In: The Patient Room. Planning, Design, Layout. Basel, Birkhäuser, 2021. pp. 158-160.


Christine Binswanger, Thomas Hardegger: Wie baut man ein gutes Spital?
In: Daniel Kurz (Ed.). Werk, Bauen + Wohnen. Spitalbau heute. Zurich, Bauen + Wohnen GmbH, 01.2021. pp. 6-12.


Christine Binswanger, Tina Cieslik: "Mehr Arbeit, aber auch mehr Qualität". Zürich bekommt ein neues Kinderspital. Entworfen und geplant wurde von Anfang an mit BIM.
In: Judit Solt (Ed.). Tec 21. BIM in der Praxis. Neubau Kinderspital Zürich. Vol. No. 28, Zurich, Espazium, 18.09.2020. pp. 22-25.


Iréne Troxler: Wie Architektur bei der Genesung hilft.
In: Markus Spillmann (Ed.). Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19.05.2017. pp. 18-19.

Jacques Herzog, Irène Troxler: Kein Freipass für Hässlichkeit. Jacques Herzog will die Funktionalität von Stadien und Spitälern mit guter Architektur verbinden.
In: Markus Spillmann (Ed.). Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19.05.2017. pp. 18-19.

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.):  Arquitectura Viva Monografias. Herzog & de Meuron 2013-2017. Vol. No. 191-192, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 12.2016.