The neighbourhood of Affoltern, Zürich has long been a playground for new ideas in Architecture. First the garden-city movement built vast open settlements for the workers of the nearby Industries, the modernistic time saw the introduction of large scale housing blocks and as the prices in the City center started to rise hight density settlements started to pop up. The small old core of the former village along the river mostly disappeared and the river itself was channeled underground, seen as an obstacle to the introduction to the lateral train line, the large Wehntaler-Street and the Highway. Today Affoltern presents itself as a scattered collage, along multiple important infrastructural elements, yet with no center of its own. To introduce such a center in this diverse fabric was the given challenge of the thesis.
As the city of Zürich plans to bring an urban tram line to the area by 2025 the placement of the stop will immensely increase the pedestrian activity between the train Station and the now dysfunctional “Zehntenhausplatz”. This direction of movement is reminiscent of the former development along the river and thus became programmatic to the project.
To serve not just as a pathway but as a new centrality the newly introduced axis needed to reach beyond the separating elements of the street and railway while maintaining and enhancing the found heterogeneity of the built to be a specific local identity. The found small scale buildings to the west of the axis as well as the large scale structures to the east are thus developed into an adaptable footprint typology that connects the now separated parts of the area. The now subterranean river is brought to light again, feeding into a different elements of swamp landscape, ranging from a pond with changing water levels on the new marketplace to weed-filled staircases, showing off the rare vegetation the area was, and still is famous for.
The inclusion of existing buildings from century old sheds and fountains to the huge 70ties shopping mall into a new centrality that evolves along the resurfaced river displays a holistic identity of the many historic and stylistic episodes of Affoltern.
Architecture & Urban design
Prof. Kees Christiaanse
As. Benedict Boucsein
Prof. Christian Schmid
As. Caroline Ting
Prof. Christophe Girot
As. James Melsom