In the immediate vicinity of Zurich’s Main Station, the formerly almost inaccessible infrastructure areas used by the Swiss Post and Swiss Railways are undergoing a decisive transformation. They are becoming part of the urban fabric, with public streets, squares, and courtyards. Four buildings are now arranged to form a perimeter block development between the new Europaallee and Lagerstrasse, surrounding a rectangular public courtyard easily accessible from all four sides.
A special characteristic of this complex is that the buildings were designed by different architects and therefore each has a distinct appearance and interior. Two were conceived by Max Dudler Architects (Buildings Europaallee and Eisgasse), one by David Chipperfield Architects (Freischützgasse Building), and the fourth by Gigon/Guyer Architects (Lagerstrasse Building). What is interesting from a volumetric and urban planning standpoint is the way the four buildings relate to the neighboring structures. Three bridges reach from one volume to the next and therefore allow circuits and connections on all the upper levels, while at the same time creating engaging entry passages.
Building Lagerstrasse possesses a multifaceted volume that reacts to the various urban planning requirements, building regulations, and functional specifications and derives from them an unexpected articulation. Located on Lagerstrasse, it is set back from the building line on the first two levels, forming a covered entrance area as well as a welcoming gesture. Recesses and projections on the upper levels modulate the volume, forming the attic story and bridge connections, as well as enlarging the office space.
A cafe, retail space, and a generous entrance hall are located on the ground floor. This lobby can be accessed from the street as well as from the courtyard. It provides the main entrance to the office and conference rooms on the seven upper floors. A further access option is offered by a passageway encircling the courtyard on the first floor, which connects the four buildings.
Wide-spanning concrete floors, a minimum of columns, as well as the staircase and elevator cores constitute the load-bearing structure of the building. Concrete was used in refined forms – as terrazzo and cast stone – for the flooring on the ground floor and in the staircases.
The double-layered building skin consists of an inner metal and glass façade with a varied rhythm of glass pane sizes and an outer, ventilated layer of single glazing with metallically shimmering fabric inserts. The outer panes provide noise protection from the street, wind protection for the sunshades and also afford privacy to those inside, without compromising the views from inside the offices. The outer glass panes are arranged at varying angles to each other, generating additional slits for ventilation and, depending on the lighting conditions, a subtle play of different reflections. This lends the impression of a curtain-wall façade – in the truest sense of the word.