Topotek1: Our design approach for Heerenschürli Sport Complex addresses urban design issues facing the surrounding neighbourhood. This neighborhood, at the edge of Zurich is a homogenous community, constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, that currently finds itself deprived of usable public space, lacking in hierarchy and centrality. Heerenschürli serves as a hybrid sports complex and public park, giving the neighborhood facilities for organized sports as well as general leisure activities. A public square with seating and a restaurant are integrated into the complex; the lawns themselves are also public – openly accessible during the off-hours of the local athletic clubs.
With its right-angle grid base and intense vertical extrusions, our design intrinsically embodies the urban density that the homogenous neighborhood is missing. A strong axial grid of paved roads for pedestrians and cyclists provides connectivity to the complex, joining the southern neighborhood of Mattenhof to Uberlandstrasse in the north, and connecting the new Hirzenbach tram loop in the west with the Stettbach grasslands to the east. The street system of the complex reads as a system of downtown alleys, pathways and squares, with the ball courts acting as city blocks. High ball fences accentuate the compaction of the complex, required for safety and spatial division. Heerenschürli’s ball fences are not requisite eyesores, but designed objects in themselves: loud, green, oversized and hyper-functional. The fences are doubled to create a visual game, opening and closing the view to the ball fields as the viewer shifts perspectives.
Visual unity of the complex was achieved by a set of binding design principles based on colour and materiality. The project’s competition title, Immergrün, or evergreen, embodies the colour concept, which originated from a fascination of the unchanging artificial green grass in a sports complex. Manifestly, all metal structures in Heerenschüli up to six metres in height are painted green. The second principle applies to the concrete constructions and the asphalt, both of which retain their original colours of grey and black, respectively, giving the immense sea of green a solid neutral base. Two shades of green are used throughout the complex, reflecting separation of indoor and outdoor. The colossal green fences are the prodigies of Heerenschürli; this doubled green fence creates a dynamic moiré, veiling the sports fields, and exposing the spectators for what they are, participants in fleeting athletic voyeurism.
Landscape Architecture: Topotek1
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Typology: Sport facilities
Client: GrünStadt Zürich (Park Development Agency)
Year of planning: 2005 – 2008
Year of completion: 2010
Size in sqm: 97.000
Architect: Dürig Architects, Zurich, Switzerland
Commission Type: Competition 1st prize
Photos: Hanns Joosten