Europaallee is expanding. The major bank UBS AG has already relocated to the new building, named Europalle 21, situated beside Zurich’s main train station and its university of teacher education. Three renowned european architectural firms have designed the ensemble of four buildings: MAX DUDLER, ANNETTE GIGON / MIKE GUYER ARCHITECTS and DAVID CHIPPERFIELD ARCHITECTS
The urban plan for the site between Zurich’s Lagerstrasse and the track bed, to which Europaallee 21 belongs, dates back to a two-stage study commissioned by SBB AG in 2006 that Max Dudler won. On Max Dudler’s initiative, the competition’s runner up – the consortium Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer Architects and David Chipperfield Architects – was invited to collaborate on the development of Construction Site C based on the winning competition design. The UBS complex comprises four buildings, grouped like windmill sails around a public courtyard accessible from four sides. The individual buildings are connected by bridges to form a unified whole. Max Dudler designed two of the buildings, the remaining two being designed by David Chipperfield Architects and Gigon/Guyer Architects respectively. The collaborative nature of the new ensemble – the result of close cooperation between the three architectural firms – is in keeping with the major bank’s own image.
UBS’s representative offices will be in Europaallee 21 of central Zurich’s new Europaallee district. Following Kees Christiaanse’s masterplan, this district is being developed alongside the narrowed tracks of Zurich’s main train station. Europaallee 21 is situated between Lagerstrasse and the track bed. Construction Site A lies to the east, and Construction Site E to the west. The planned completion date for the new Europaallee district is 2020. The new district will incorporate 6 000 workplaces, 2 500 study spaces, 300 apartments, one hotel, shops and restaurants as well as other leisure activities. On Construction Site A, Europaallee Quarter’s first new edifice, completed in autumn 2012, was a four-building ensemble by Max Dudler, which houses Zurich’s University of Teacher Education, as well as a shopping mall and offices. Prior to the decision to develop 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.
Freischützgasse House, the new eight-storey building designed by David Chipperfield Architects, occupies the north-east corner of the site. The narrow front end opens onto the new Europaallee, while its long side extends along Freischützgasse. The strict rationality of its floor plan, also reflected in its façade, is softened by the floor-height facade bands which meander in opposing directions. The resulting bas-relief effect is further enhanced by printed synthetic mesh with different levels of perforation in
the external glass panels. The appearance of the building changes depending on the prevailing light and viewing angle. In its perception it oscillates between heaviness and lightness, austerity and playfulness, enclosure and openness and in doing so enters into a lively dialogue with its surroundings.
On the ground floor, the entrance lobby creates a link between Freischützgasse and the inner courtyard. Two storeys in height, the lobby offers views into the first floor offices as well as the communal corridor. This generously-proportioned corridor, facing the inner courtyard, connects all four office buildings at first floor level. Bridge areas on all the other floors enable direct access to the adjoining buildings. The new building’s interior is defined by its rational floor plan, which provides a maximum degree of flexibility through column-free spaces. The bay-like niches set into the building’s façade afford attractive views across Europaallee boulevard, as well as into the publicly accessible inner courtyard.