Post-industrial Open-air Culture

The outside spaces of the redesigned Sulzerareal tell a story about history. With generous gestures and quiet notes. They create quality of life in a former industrial location by transforming the identity of the place in an almost imperceptible manner. The fragmentary, the fleeting, the illustrative – these are the guiding concepts and themes of this post-industrial open-air culture.

A New Element in the Cityscape

Puddles, cracks in the asphalt from which birch trees and poplars grow, huge asphalt areas, elongated façades: with the change of use of more and more industrial areas the rough aesthetic of old industrial buildings is becoming part of the cityscape. In Winterthur the Sulzerareal has opened up. Living, culture, services and businesses unite to create a new living space, leaving the fundamental structure of the area intact. Differentiation is used as a means of integration: its special nature makes this area an integral part of the city between the old town, transport routes, residential areas and local recreation areas.

Fragment and Symbol

With its generous gestures and quiet notes, the design paints a fragmentary and at times fleeting picture. The illustrative and changeable nature characterises the atmosphere. This is manifested in the different handling of the surfaces, for example. The spots that may have had puddles in the past because the ground was compacted by lorries driving over it are now designed with pools that are flush with the ground. Ruderal tree species have been promoted, from squatters residing in asphalt cracks to groves providing valuable shade.

The Journey as the Destination

A superordinate strategy determines the design transformation the open spaces have undergone. It ensures an uninterrupted continuation of the history that respects the qualities of this space. The goal of the landscape design was to capture the characteristics of a continuing transformation that is taking place on many levels simultaneously. The transformation and the potential within it are front and centre. The change-of-use process is on-going. The new, changeable scene enriches the city.

Sulzerareal, Winterthur

Client: Sulzer Immobilien AG, Winterthur

Project planning: 2000-2011

Implementation: in stages, 2002–2014

Area: 21’100 m²

Awards: Hochparterre / SF DRS Die Besten 2004, Category: landscape, 1st prize

Auszeichnung guter Bauten im Kanton Zürich 2006

Photograph: Manuel Bauer, Ralf Feiner

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