airports architecture infrastructure initiatives research strat. planning urban design
Schwamendingen highway cover
Zürich, Switzerland, 2002
client: - (independent proposal)
team: Güller Güller architecture urbanism, Heierli Engineering AG

Highway planning of the 50ies and 60ies left some serious scars in the city of Zurich. One of them is the corridor leading into town from the North, cutting apart and seriously hampering the district of Schwamendingen, a living area. In fact, this stretch of highway is one of the most heavily congested parts of the Swiss highway system with some 100'000 vehicles per day entering and leaving the city. Not surprisingly, the people living in the district are ever since calling for 'reparation'.
The late 1990ies saw a series of proposals using simple noise shields or glass boxes covering the highway.

Our preliminary design study proposes an alternative for the integration of the open highway in the surrounding district. As the highway cannot be sunken, the only way to change things is by covering it. However, a glass box does not yield any added value to the district besides noise reduction. Instead, a concrete cover allows for bridging the gap with a public space linking the separated parts of the district to each other and allowing for buildings to approach and invade the current highway's no-man's-land.

Ironically enough, shortly after our design study was presented to the Cantonal department of civil engineering, the latter issued a competitive study among three other offices resulting in exactly the same proposal...