Transformation Framework Open spaces

A new neighbourhood in the heart of Zurich

'Europaallee', the area around Zurich’s main railway station, is a key development site owing to its central position and excellent accessibility. In the masterplan, the morphology and block structure of the surrounding city is elaborated in order to insert the new development into its surroundings in a natural way.

Construction envelopes have been established for the new blocks, with basic rules for maximum dimensions, penetration of daylight and sightlines. This establishes a sustainable structure that ca...

Location
  • Zurich, Switzerland
Client
  • Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB, Municipality of Zurich
Year
  • 2004 - 2021
Status
  • Completed
Program
  • 100.000 m2 masterplan 350.000 m2 of housing, offices, public space, retail and leisure
Disciplines
  • Masterplan
  • Supervision
Credits
  • Photography: Rene Durr
  • Photography: Lucas Peters
Collaborators
  • Coordinator: Ernst Basler & Partner
  • Landscape Architecture: Rotzler Krebs
  • Architecture: Max Dudler
  • Architecture: David Chipperfield Architects
  • Architecture: Gigon-Guyer Architects
  • Architecture: Caruso St. John Architects
  • Architecture: Graber Pulver Architects
  • Architecture: E2a Eckert Architects
  • © Rene Durr
    © Rene Durr

    When looking at the station area, the immediate question raised whether the area should be fully build up or rather be characterized by generous open space structures. A second question was to what extent the area should structurally be a continuation of the surrounding districts or develop an independent character.

    We proposed building the area densely in a building structure that naturally develops from the surrounding structures. Zurich is a growing metropolis and plays an international role as a global city and cultural center. The city center is an attractor and of course it is under great pressure. The station area is very suitable to absorb part of this pressure due to its available space and the excellent development by rail and local public transport. 

    A characteristic of all attractive cities is the problem of opening up central areas by means of private transport. Therefore, the density of the building should not be dependent on it. Zurich is rich in generous open spaces, e.g. along the Limmat and Sihl as well as by the lake, and therefore does not need any new large open spaces in the center, apart from urban district-related open spaces.

    The train station works as a vestibule. Europaallee has been designed with the same purpose; a place where you enter a city and come together.
    Ute Schneider, Partner KCAP
  • The structure of the public spaces is based on the continuation of the surrounding cross streets in the area, the contours of the stages, and important sight lines in the area. In the southern area, a kind of block structure is created, cut through by a “diagonal cross”, which is formed from the line of sight from the station forecourt and the tiering boundaries. The intersection of the diagonals is connected to the space around the signal box and to the Lagerstrasse, thus creating a potential for an interesting spatial sequence.

  • The development within the blocks does not consist of fixed structures, but can be designed flexibly within a dynamic set of rules depending on the program and as desired. This set of rules regulates the height, shape and position of the building in mutual dependence on the basis of various parameters, such as incidence of light, shading, distance, slimness, etc. The set of rules consists of two main aspects: the base rules and the high-rise rules.

    The base rules regulate the development of the block edges, the high-rise rules regulate the high-rise elements (see regulations). High-rise parts must not protrude vertically into the air from the ground floor, but must develop out of the base structures. The resulting deliberately "anarchist" skyline results in an ensemble that on the one hand develops an independent character and at the same time naturally develops out of the existing urban structure. 

    It is avoided that the whole ensemble is established as a “compositional” megastructure in the city skyline. Such an urban planning concept can also cope with a certain amount of poor architecture without losing its urban quality. This even confirms the concept.

  • The distribution of the program is flexible. Nowadays, the speed of rotation of programs in buildings is increasing more and more. Both the urban structure and the building structure should therefore guarantee a certain degree of flexibility. In order to avoid the creation of monofunctional units that are too large, minimum rates for public uses along the streets and residential loft uses in the blocks can be proposed in the regulations. 

    This also has consequences for the regular size of access cores and the size of construction sections within a block. As an example of the different programming of the blocks, we have presented the Sihlpost in three variants, as a shopping center with passageways, as a residential and office block with shops on the ground floor, and as a theater / congress center.

  • Europaallee's building volumes correspond strongly with the older surrounding city districts. Europaallee doesn’t have skyscrapers or individual standing towers. It’s an ensemble of well-orchestrated volumes. In this way Europaallee blends in well into the existing city morphology.
  • © Lucas Peters Photography

    The neighbourhood is characterised by various architectural styles. Each of the eight building plots was developed through study procedures and architectural competition in close cooperation with the City of Zurich, on the basis of KCAP’s (Zurich/Rotterdam) urban development master plan. The development of Europaallee was done through several different phases.

    Plot A: Max Dudler, Plot B: Stücheli Architekten, Plot C: Max Dudler; Annette Gigon/Mike Guyer; David Chipperfield, Plot D: Wiel Arets Architects, Plot E: Caruso St John Architects LLP; Bosshard Vaquer Architekten, Plot F: Boltshauser Architekten, Plot G: Graber Pulver Architekten; Masswerk, Plot H: e2a eckert eckert architekten

  • © Lucas Peters Photography

    The public space forms the main structure and is characterized by a sequence of streets, alleys and squares. The scale of this spatial sequence is complementarily nourished by the public uses in the base areas, the alternation of the architecture in the blocks, and local passageways, bridges and passages. This activation allows the materialization of the facility to remain high-quality and simple.

  • © Rene Durr
    © Rene Durr

    The Negrellisteg bridge has an important function for Zurich. It connects two previously hardly related city districts that have undergone massive changes in recent decades. One of these is Europaallee, the redevelopment of the station area into a mixed-use urban quarter by KCAP that attracts more people to work and live in the city. Urban development interventions are also imminent in District 5. The pedestrian overpass by ARGE Negrellisteg implements KCAP's vision of coexistence behind the masterplan for Europaallee, where 4 of these connections are foreseen to boost the accessibility and relationship between the various districts.

    The project was designed by “ARGE Negrellisteg”, a consortium composed by Conzett Bronzini Partner AG, Chur, Diggelmann + Partner AG, Bern and 10:8 Architekten Gmbh, Zurich on commission of the Swiss Federal Railways SBB and the City of Zurich. The project as realised in March 2021.

    The train tracks act as a river, with on both side shores which have strong connections to each other. In this way city districts connect in order to create more freedom for citizens to move from side to side.
  • © Rene Durr
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