With the development of tourism in Zermatt, it was often difficult for the employees of Gornergrat Railway to find suitable housing. That’s why the company built a residential building for employees in the 1970s.
Tense living situation
With the increasing development of Zermatt as an international tourist destination, living space in Zermatt became scarce. In the aftermath of the Second World War, this was a problem especially for the employees of the mountain railways. In order to be attractive as an employer, the Board of Gornergrat Railway had to provide affordable housing. They would only be able to recruit external specialists if they could provide sufficient apartments, studios and rooms for staff.
Railway-owned residential building
The Board of Directors reacted to the tense situation and commissioned the construction of a residential building for employees. In 1972, construction began on the railway’s own plot just above the Getwing bridge over the Vispa and right next to the entrance to the Gornergrat Railway depot shed. A year later, the shell of the building was completed.
At the beginning of September 1974, numerous employees were able to move into the “Gornerhaus” with its nine apartments, three studios and nine individual rooms for staff. We spoke to Meinrad Heynen, a former resident of the Gornerhaus:
When Meinrad started working for Gornergrat Railway, he first lived in a small room on the upper floor of the Gornergrat depot, and from 1977 in one of the rooms at the Gornerhaus. He married in 1979 and the young couple moved into a 2 1⁄2 room apartment in the Gornerhaus. Finally, in 1983, they moved to a 4 1⁄2 room apartment on the third floor.
As Meinrad also said, the apartments were of very good quality by the standards of the day. He specifically mentioned the low rental prices for employees, which is why the name “company apartments” was justified. From both apartments they had a beautiful view of the Matterhorn. When he left the company in 1988, he also had to give up his apartment, as these were reserved for employees.
Opening in 2023
The total refurbishment of the aging residential building, which currently has 17 apartments, began in 2022. This included the demolition of the entire building into the shell and the remediation of a contaminated site. BVZ Asset Management AG has been renting out the new apartments since 1 March 2023. As in the past, it gives priority to interested employees.