The Waldhaus Psychiatric Clinic, Chur, Switzerland

New Points of View

Client: Hochbauamt des Kanton Graubünden
Architecture: Neubauten: F. Censi & F. Chiaverio
Period: 1991 – 1996
Surface area: 15 000m2

The 19th century Waldhaus Psychiatric Clinic site has an interesting and metamorphic past; once a talus cone, then a forest, later farmland and then a pasture. The main house’s mighty, axially organized Wilhelminian-style architecture harkens back to a house-and-garden style once prevalent in Germany –conceived for flat terrain, not mountainsides. In Grisons, the mountain was excavated and landfill heaped onto the valley side to create the flat terrain. The stock of precious trees originated in the miniaturized, small-lot, landscaped gardens of that period.

Emblematic of a new interpretation of psychiatry, the redesign opens out the entire park. Roofed passageways were dismantled and the small-lot organization was abandoned in favour of a much more spacious park newly enriched with additional trees. Accessed by arched paths through the park, it allows a broader experience of space and signals the opening up of the entire facility. The park is adjoined by newly added courtyard spaces surrounding patients’ houses, designed as residential gardens.

* Project by Kienast Vogt Partner