29.01.24Project UpdateKantonsrat Zürich approves funds for Militärkaserne
1/1© Jürg-Peter Hug

Umwandlung der Militärkaserne Zürich zum Schulgebäude nimmt konkrete Formen an

After the cantonal police used the military barracks in Zurich for around 30 years, the education center for adults is to move into the historic building in future. The cantonal government is approving around CHF 122 million for the overall renovation of the building. At the same time, it is asking the Cantonal Council for a property loan of around 58 million francs so that the barracks can be converted into a modern educational building. This will create more space for secondary schools in the city of Zurich.

The barracks area is the largest area in the city center and a protected monument of national importance. The 120-metre-long military barracks, which run parallel to the Sihl river, can be seen from afar. After the cantonal police moved into the new police and justice center last year, the comprehensive renovation and conversion of the building is now taking shape.

Once the construction work is complete, the Education Center for Adults (BiZE) will move into the military barracks. Due to the high typological similarity of the existing building to school buildings and the optimal transport location for cross-regional connections, the cantonal government made the decision to proceed with the master plan "Zukunft Kasernenareal Zürich" in 2016. The Cantonal Council confirmed the use in the cantonal structure plan in 2018. The BiZE consists of the cantonal baccalaureate school for adults and the vocational school for continuing education EB Zurich. The move creates space at the previous BiZE site in Riesbach for the Literary High School, which is currently located in Rämibühl.

Classrooms instead of dormitories

The conversion of the listed building will be challenging. It is important to carefully preserve the cultural heritage and at the same time create a contemporary infrastructure for the school. The basic structure of the military barracks with former dormitories for 1,400 soldiers is well suited for school operations with around 850 students per day. However, some open or larger rooms are required, which necessitates specific interventions in the building structure. The central wing will have a glass superstructure that will provide the new atrium with optimal lighting over several storeys. The "Pilum" project by spillmann echsle architekten from Zurich emerged as the winner of a competition in a selective procedure.

In accordance with the master plan "Zukunft Kasernenareal Zürich", the first floor will be open to the public (e.g. restaurants, small businesses, multifunctional areas for markets or exhibitions), which should contribute to the revitalization of the site. In addition, a multi-purpose hall will allow events for up to 300 people. The former soldiers' and officers' canteen will be renovated and will be open to the public as well as BiZE students and course participants as a restaurant.

Extensive repairs urgently needed

At the same time as the conversion, the historic building urgently needs to be repaired. For example, the natural stone façade made of Bernese sandstone is in very poor condition. All of the building's supply and disposal systems and building technology installations also need to be completely replaced. This includes all service lines, the transformer station, the sewerage system dating back to the year of construction, all sanitary facilities and electrical systems. In addition, various measures will be implemented to improve the thermal insulation of the building envelope. A photovoltaic system will be installed on the new roof structure and the building will be heated with district heating.

The total costs amount to 180 million francs. Of this, CHF 122 million is committed expenditure for the renovation, which the cantonal government has approved. At the same time, it is asking the Cantonal Council for new expenditure of around CHF 58 million for the conversion. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024, with the schools opening in spring 2027.

This text is a translation from a German version.