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Wiel Arets

Europaallee Site D . Zurich

Wiel Arets . Europaallee Site D . Zurich  afasia (1)

Wiel Arets Architects

Progress construction on Europaallee ‘Site D’ in Zürich.
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This new mixed-use building is an integral component of ‘Europaallee’, a currently emerging district adjacent to Zürich’s central train station. The building is currently known as ‘Site D’ due to the numbers of buildings in the new Europaallee district–eight in total, each assigned a letter, ‘A-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 ‘Europaallee’, and opens onto the ground floor’s main retail 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, organized around an multi-level exterior courtyard, essentially creating two office ‘towers’. A closed cavity façade system, bound by polished concrete containing Carrara marble, encases the building; luxuriously contrasting matte-brass finishings, such as those adorning the ground floor entryways.

Due to the nature of the site–on the one hand, facing Europaallee, and on the other, facing a platform three of Zürich’s central train station–it was chosen to cantilever a portion of the building over that train platform. This was done in order to slip the building into its site-defined urban context, and build the ‘façade of the city’ directly up against the train tracks, simultaneously allowing for the utilization of the site’s full maximum floor area potential. Owing to the preexisting condition of an enormous underground delivery hall below the building’s ground floor–a space that needed to be column free, so that it could accommodate large delivery trucks–compounded with the building’s site; this project’s structure is, rather complex. This delivery hall, which is partially under the building, and partially below a neighboring building, has a maximum size of about 57x25m, of which 23×25 m is also column-free, so that delivery trucks are able to enter, and turn around. A tunnel connects the delivery hall to the two other new buildings under construction at Europaallee, as well as to a new shopping arcade in the main train station.

All deliveries for these three buildings, passes through that new, massive delivery hall. The site’s relatively slender nature partially dictated the shape of the building, as its plot allows allows for a building with a maxi- mum of 22m depth on its eastern side, but 38m deep on the western side. Because of this situation, a cantilever was introduced on the building’s track facing, northern facing façade. This cantilever extends 9 m over the adjacent train track, above which are eight of the ten total stories. The cantilevered stories rest above the double-heighted floors of retail space, and they consist solely of office area. A net of beams 1.8 m high and 1.2m wide gridded over the retail space redistribute the load of the weight from the cantilevered portion back to the adjacent cores, spanning the ground floor space through to the building’s opposite side. Additionally, pre-stressed tension cables in the ground floor carry the whole weight of the building’s core to the borders of the underground tunnel, in order to leave a large enough space so that the delivery hall is free of columns, to accommodate deliveries.

Google is the district’s main tenant, and will occupy most office space in ‘Site D’–whose basement level is connected to two adjacent buildings and contains a tunnel for vehicles, so that deliveries can be made under- ground, minimizing automobile presence in the area. Foreseeing a possible conversion into future residential units, the building’s flexible structure was designed to allow for such a repurpose of its program. The result- ing silhouette, and the 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 in 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, with trees bordering the main pedestrian passage, creating a ‘small-scale’ urban garden in the resulting intimate ‘urban canyon’ the district will form. With the completion of this new building–the last remaining plot in the development–the Europaallee Zürich area will be completed in its entirety, after the corporation developing it was first formed, in 1995.

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