A new district is being created in the heart of Zurich. The trapezoidal area, located directly behind Zurich’s main train station, stretches from Langstrasse to Kasernenstrasse and from Lagerstrasse to the newly created Europaallee, which runs parallel to the train tracks. This major infrastructural project has a planned completion date of 2018. The new district will incorporate 6000 workplaces, 1800 study spaces, 400 flats, one hotel, shops and restaurants as well as other leisure activities. Prior to the decision taken to transform the tract of land in 2006, the area was being used by the Swiss Federal Railways and the Swiss Postal Service and was not accessible to the public.
CONSTRUCTION SITE A
THE CITY OF ZURICH GROWS
MAX DUDLER BUILDS UNIVERSITY OF TEACHER EDUCATION AND OFFICE BUILDING
IN ZURICH’S NEW EUROPAALLEE DISTRICT.
Max Dudler divided the building of the new Europaallee district into two stages of construction. On Construction Site A, directly behind the listed Sihlpost building, an ensemble of three buildings is being erected for Zurich’s University of Teacher Education, together with additional office and shop facilities. The ensemble – the first new buildings to be built in the Europaallee Quarter – was completed in autumn 2012. The University’s elevated central campus is reached via a generously-proportioned set of external steps. The central area connects the ensemble’s main glass building with the structure to the south, which houses seminar rooms and a creche, as well as with the building to the west, which houses work and music rooms as well as two sports halls in its uppermost floors. The northern side of the piazza is occupied by an office building, also designed by Max Dudler. A shopping mall – which includes a passage leading to the train station at ground level – has been incorporated beneath lecture rooms, the university canteen and library. The facades of the building ensemble take their visual lead from the simplicity and elegance of a masonry association. Deep shadow gaps separate the large-size glass and Trosselfels limestone facade elements. Through partial projections and recesses, the building’s facade appears both sculptural yet serene and visually consistent. Its basalt surfacing detail extends seamlessly into the adjoining foyers and canteen.
Additionally, at Construction Site C, which borders Construction Site A to the west, a total of four buildings will be erected by 2013 for a large bank. Of these four buildings, two have been designed by Max Dudler, the other two by Gigon/Guyer (Zurich)and David Chipperfield Architects (London/Berlin). Bridges connect the four buildings, which together form a large-scale structure. With the conversion of the existing Alte Sihlpost building, the entire ensemble will be completed in 2015.
The primary design goal was to integrate the new district into the fabric of the pre-existing city. Accordingly, the floor heights have been designed to match the height of the eaves in the surrounding districts. Located at the entry to Construction Site A, the elegant Sihlpost building, dating to 1929, acts as a visual cue for the sculptural projections and recesses incorporated into the new buildings.When considered as a whole, the buildings being erected on Construction Sites A and C are part of an ongoing architectural dialogue, translating Zurich’s architectural tradition into the
language of our time. The streets, lanes, squares and passages included in this urban development plan offer yet more variety to the extensive repertoire of European city design. Details such as fountains, street lamps and benches round off the timeless, European identity of this new part of the city.
Zurich Stadtraum HB, Construction Site A
SBB Swiss Federal Railways,
Construction Department of the Canton of Zurich
Zurich’s University of Teacher Education:
54 300 m2 gross surface area
216 400 m3 gross building volume
New Office Building:
15 300 m2 gross surface area
68 000 m3 gross building volume
Alte Sihlpost, Conversion into Office Building:
21 200 m2 gross surface area
86 300 m3 gross building volume
Design and Construction Period
(University of Teacher Education, New Office Building)
2014–2015 (Alte Sihlpost building)
MAX DUDLER Architekten
Overall Project Management Mark van Kleef, Wiebke Ahues
Christian Moeller, Wiebke Ahues, Maike Schrader, Claudio Pasquini, Christof Berkenhoff, Nina Behjati
Britta Fritze (Wettbewerb), Anna Bartels, Inken Blum, Stefan Bohe, Eva Brass, Merry Classen, Beate Dauth, Stefania Dziura, Jan Feislachen, Arlette Feltz- Süssenbach, Hannah Ferlic, Christian Franke, Martin Grasse, Gesine Gummi, Aysu Gümüstekin, Clive Hildering, Anna-Katharina Hüveler, Jörn Kärcher, Isabell Klunker, Katharina Laekamp, Silke Meier zu Evenhausen, Isabelle Meissner, Johann Moeller,Helga Müller, Lisa Onnen, Hannes Reichel, Max Rein, Marcel Rüther, Katja Schmidt, Kathrin Schmitz, Andrea Schregenberger, Andrea Thöny, Cornelius Voss, Karin Weber-Mank, Katja Wemhöner, Renwen Yang
Photos stefan Miiller
Here’s some more information from MAX DUDLER :
INTERVIEW WITH MAX DUDLER ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF ZURICH’S UNIVERSITY OF TEACHER EDUCATION IN THE EUROPAALLEE QUARTER
At Zurich’s main train station, the new Europaallee district will be finished by 2018. What opportunities and risks do you associate with the transformation of this area? Are you satisfied with the results of the building work? It is now an opportune time to increase the density of the growing city of Zurich. Like many cities in Switzerland, increasing the density is the only significant way by which Zurich can grow. Thus we must densify sites that have already been built on and make use of the last remaining pockets, such as this development land at Zurich’s main train station. In so doing, Zurich attains a ‘new density’, as the phrase goes in the newly published book about the University of Teacher Education. A new density perhaps, but one which also requires a new level of urban design quality. The challenge is to increase the density while ensuring that Zurich remains recognizably Zurich. The same goes for integrating new into pre-existing elements. The first phase of Europaallee entails the construction of the University of Teacher Education’s ensemble of buildings, which in terms of their timing and scale are pioneers in this regard. A project of this scale, of course, affects various vested interests, through which conflicts also ensue.I believe, however, that the results speak for themselves.
It’s been a long journey from the competition stage to the actual realization of the project. What were your guiding thoughts while conceiving the buildings? Did much change since?If you compare the model made as part of our competition entry with the finished quarter, astoundingly little has changed. We have managed to translate our ideas of an inner densification into reality. From the outset we wanted an ensemble; a new street layout which would both absorb the physiognomy of the city and translate it into a contemporary architectural language. If you walk through the lanes and up the steps to the campus, you will feel this overlap. Other instances of this are known in Zurich, such as Lindenhof: beautiful steps leading up to a public square. In my opinion, this succeeds perfectly. I’m also satisfied with the detailing. And one other thing that is important to me: at last the Sihlpost building regains its rightful place as the principal structure. It will no longer simply be ‘built on at the back’ as had previously been the case. The old is thus part of the new.
The competition for Construction Site A with its Alte Sihlpost and the University of Teacher Education, as well as for Construction Site C with its UBS bank buildings, was the first of its kind. Do you believe that this competition had a decisive effect on Europaallee’s appearance?Yes indeed, I believe that our solutions for the first phase had a knock-on effect on the subsequent construction sites: on their rhythm, their core. Many other competition entries envisaged the complete building over of Construction Site A with the University of Teacher Education. We suggested instead that the University campus be on a raised square. We took the original route as laid out in the master plan by Kees Christiaanse and extended it by adding even more spaces and passages – now, at last, there are genuine squares in the city. The continuity of the urban space also remains intact. Everything is public. Bearing in mind the future development of the European city, I believe that this idea – that open spaces are more important in urban planning than a single, isolated building – will prevail over time. We also learned new things in the process. Construction Sites A and C were conceived in tandem, since the postal sorting office that formerly stood here occupied such a huge area. We realized that this space is in fact too large for any single architect. That’s why we suggested that the architectural firms David Chipperfield and Gigon/Guyer, who had also participated in the competition, also contributed buildings to Construction Site C. This proved successful.
Mention is often made of sustainability, a word which surfaces time and again in connection with Europaallee.For me, the question of sustainability goes beyond questions of energy-usage and choice of materials. What mattered in this case was the decision to bring the University of Teacher Education into the heart of the city, to a place where all train connections converge, thus serving as the perfect location. This ensures that the quarter becomes lively and enormously diverse. That’s sustainability. And as with the Alte Sihlpost, if the buildings survive the next hundred years, then that’s sustainability too. For a place to become accepted, it needs to offer a broad range of urban functions, amongst which are shops and restaurants. That’s why we also think the shopping mall is a good idea, connecting Lagerstrasse with Europaallee. But it is embedded in a street scene which also contains many small shops, thus enabling the area to develop. Among all this is the
campus of the University of Teacher Education, which also adds to the mix.
To what extent do your buildings enable the new district to integrate with its historical surroundings? Architecture always acts as an intervention into a pre-existing fabric. Whether we’re building an extension to the “Cradle of German Democracy”, Hambach Castle in Neustadt on the Wine Route, or whether, here in Zurich, we’re increasing the density of the city from within, the same principles apply. If you look at the typology of the medieval city, then you’ll also find these same narrow lanes and squares, the same density. So when we continue constructing the city today, I feel it’s appropriate to take such a typology and to transform it into another dimension and in a different quality, of course. I believe it’s clearly evident that our architecture on Europaallee takes as its cue the physiognomy of the city of Zurich. Many contrasting building structures are to be seen here, if you consider the quantum leap in building seen in Zurich in the nineteenth century with the construction of the University and the Semper Building. The nineteenth century bestowed many characteristic features on the city. What’s important, as I mentioned before, is that the result of all this is quality.