Wiel Arets Architects are creating a new mixed-use office and retail building that is an integral component of Zürich’s ‘Europaallee’, a currently emerging district adjacent to the city’s central train station.
The building is currently known as ‘Site D’ due to the numbers of buildings in the central Europaallee district; eight in total, each assigned a letter, ‘A’ through ‘H’. A plinth of retail programming anchors the building to its site, while its upper volumes consist of flexible office spaces that, due to their shallow depth and efficient façade grid, can be occupied by several individual companies or a larger singular tenant.
These dual programs posed the challenge of creating two lighting and spatial requirements within this prominently sited building. The main entry is positioned along the parallel street named Europaallee, and opens onto the ground floor’s main retail, dining, and circulation spaces. From the ground floor, a central staircase complemented by two ramping escalators traverses and connects these areas.
Eight floors of office space are set atop the plinth, and are organized around a multi-level exterior courtyard, essentially creating two office ‘towers’. A closed cavity façade system, bound by polished concrete with Carrara marble, encases the building; luxuriously contrasting matte-brass finishes such as those adorning the ground floor entryways.
Due to the nature of the site–on the one hand, facing the main pedestrian path of Europaallee, and on the other, facing platform three of Zürich’s central train station, it was chosen to cantilever a portion of this building out over that train platform. This was also done to slip the building into its site-defined, rigid urban context, so as to build the ‘façade of the city’ directly up against the train tracks–which simultaneously allows for the utilization of the site’s full maximum floor area potential.
Google is this new district’s main tenant, and will also occupy most office space in ‘Site D’. Foreseeing a possible conversion into future residential units, the building’s flexible while complicated structure was designed to allow for such a repurpose of its program, as this.
The resulting silhouette of the building, and the precise alignment of its highest points with the trackside façades of the two adjacent plots, ensures a unified building amid the area’s planned structures, further defining the distinguished context of the surrounding ‘Europaallee’. As with many new urban spaces within Zürich, ample seating and bike parking will be incorporated. Similar to allée of formal gardens; the district will be planted with copious amounts of greenery. Trees will border the main pedestrian path, creating a ‘small-scale’ urban garden in the resulting ‘urban canyon’ that this entire new district will shape. With the completion of this new building–the last remaining plot in the development–Europaallee Zürich area will be finalized in its entirety, after the corporation developing it was first formed, back in 1995.