Alpine buildings in Switzerland take top two prizes in architecture competition

Bern, 16.09.2022 - On 16 September, Switzerland and Liechtenstein awarded the Constructive Alps architecture prize for sustainable renovation and construction in the Alps for the sixth time. Out of around 240 projects from 7 countries, the jury selected 11 of the buildings as outstanding. They take up as little land as possible, feature wood as a building material and produce their own electricity.

The architects who designed the award-winning buildings have paid particular attention to natural resources and the building traditions of the Alpine region. The buildings exemplify architecture's power to unite aesthetics and sustainability. They are notable for taking up as little land as possible, their use of sustainable building materials and their ability to minimise energy costs or even cover their own energy requirements. This year four projects share the top three places at Constructive Alps, as well as the EUR 50,000 in prize money, with two of the projects coming from Switzerland. The Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE is involved in the sponsorship of the competition.

This year, first prize goes to the new Feld school building in Azmoos (SG), built in 2020 to replace the old building where 80 children had attended classes. The larger new building now provides space for 200 pupils, without taking up additional floor area. The wooden construction impressed the jury due to its social and ecological sustainability by creating common spaces and by using roof-mounted solar panels to cover its energy needs.

Two projects won second prize this year: the head office of heating specialists ÖkoFEN France in Saint Baldoph, Chambéry, and the Ghiringhelli apartment building in Bellinzona (TI). The ÖkoFEN France building is made of solid wood, from the load-bearing structure to the building shell. The project team set urban design accents at the transition from the industrial zone to the adjacent wetland, for example by creating a tree-lined inner courtyard. The Ghiringhelli residential development is also constructed of wood and combines ecological needs with high-quality inward urban development and affordable housing. Traditional arcades also provide attractive common spaces.

The jury awarded third prize to the renovated Falkenhütte in Hinterriss in Austria's Karwendel mountain range: a mountain inn that blends seamlessly into the high alpine landscape. The team of architects blended the new extensions with the parts of the building from the 1920s and 1960s that were preserved. The Falkenhütte was also chosen as the public favourite for the second time.

The jury also recognised the following projects:

  • Erna's House student housing, Dornbirn (AT)
  • Friedrich-Inhauser-Strasse apartment building (ZeCaRe II), Salzburg (AT)
  • Küng office building, Alpnach (OW)
  • Renovation and extension of general purpose building, Fläsch (GR)
  • MATADOR temporary school building, Vaduz (FL)
  • Alpine pasture in Petosan, La Thuile (IT)
  • House Šenk, Zgornje Jezersko (SLO)

Constructive Alps
Liechtenstein and Switzerland jointly award the Constructive Alps prize, an international prize for sustainable renovation and construction in the Alps. The Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE is the Swiss representative. The University of Liechtenstein works with the jury to examine the objects and the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps CIPRA provides organisational support for the competition. The exhibition for the sixth edition of the competition, Constructive Alps 2022 – Sustainable Architecture from Ljubljana to Nice, is designed by the Swiss Alpine Museum to be held outdoors and will first be shown on Peter-Kaiser-Platz in Vaduz. In the spring of 2023, it will make a stop in Bern on an area of unused land between the Museum of Communication and the Historical Museum.

Alpine Convention and Climate Action Plan
Constructive Alps 2022 is one of Liechtenstein and Switzerland's contributions to implementing the Alpine Convention's Climate Action Plan. During its Alpine Convention presidency in 2021 and 2022, Switzerland is focusing on climate, sustainable mobility, Alpine cities, sustainable construction and modal shift. The Alpine Convention is the world's first binding agreement under international law for the sustainable development of a mountain region. The eight Alpine states and the European Union have jointly adopted a Climate Action Plan. They intend to make the Alps a model region for climate protection and adaptation as they implement the plan.

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Federal Office for Spatial Development