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Design Leadership Prize:
Focus Ageing Society



Burgergemeinde Bern

Project lead:

Simone von Graffenried, Susanne Landolf Wild


Located right next to Bern’s railway station, the Burgerspital building was used for many decades as an old people’s home for the local community. In 2014, however, the listed building complex, constructed in the Baroque period around a generously dimensioned inner courtyard, was subjected to fundamental renovation and converted into a barrier-free multi-generational house.

Conceived of as a public space of encounter and dialogue between the generations, the house sees itself as a platform for information, advice and support and as the hub for cross-generational sociocultural projects. With this in mind, a mixed-use building and a variety of tenants were envisaged, this being thought conducive to the promotion of these objectives. The old people’s accommodation still existing on the second upper storey was combined with a variety of services and letting opportunities – and the recently converted attic storey holds conference and function rooms, which make the house potentially interesting for all age groups.

Comments of the nominators

Following a careful renovation having regard to the status of a listed building, the Burgerspital has been successfully transformed into a meeting place that is experienced as attractive by all generations. At the same time, it is a focal point for crossgenerational projects which give rise to valuable social impulses. A wide spectrum of services for young and old has been skilfully combined with cultural activities designed to promote the coming together of generations.