Baukontor Architekten

A pearl in the industrial quarter

Near Escher Wyss-Platz in Zürich West, a new building is enhancing the value and status of the former industrial quarter. Here, the architects of Baukontor AG have erected a prestigious commercial building of distinctive quality in terms of urban development. The façade emphasises elegancy in an industrial area.

Restrained in form and with a very stately quality, the new commercial building on the Schiffbauplatz defines the place without oppressing it. It shows how even large dimensions can integrate well with the surroundings. 

Where, previously, the rehearsal theatre of the Opera House used to be a shabby provisional facility, there now stands a building that has relevance in terms of urban development, with an inviting square opening out in front of it. 

While road traffic roars past and the Hardbrücke flyover runs just a few metres away alongside the east-facing façade, the new business premises look calm and composed. 


With its Italian sedimentary rock façade, the building fits in with the industrial-style surroundings as well as with the raw concrete of the Hardbrücke flyover.

A strict structural grid

The commercial building covers around 10,700 m2 of office space on five upper floors. The 1,800 m2 ground floor is reserved for commercial and catering uses.

The main pillars of the load-bearing façade are clad with Ceppo di Gré, the other surfaces with Belgian bluestone. The strict grid structure of the windows gives the external body of the building a quiet and sober appearance. Only the shop and attic floor escape the otherwise prevailing flow. 

CW 65-EF elemes homlokzat Alumínium függönyfalak - Schiffbauplatz található Zürich, Svájc

The large windows offer a far-reaching view into the industrial area in the Kreis 5 district. The narrow frames of the ceiling-height windows from Reynaers Aluminium consist of gold-coloured anodized aluminium and fit in well with the strict grid structure of the unitised element façade. Proportions and material emphasise the superior quality. Next to a large expanse of glass in the middle, each of the windows has two lateral opening vents. In this way, the three-part windows distinguish the building unambiguously as a smart office block and lend it an elegant metropolitan character.

Elegant façade

The unique façade with its 671 windows, from the 1st to the 4th floors, is created by a combination of the CS 86-Hi window system and the CW 65-EF element façade from Reynaers Aluminium.   

For the opening vents, the high-insulated window system CS 86-HI was selected as it meets the strictest standards with regard to security and stability.

The CW 65 façade system from Reynaers Aluminium was used for the large fixed glass panel inner part of the windows. Here, the crucial aspect was that, because of the large window dimensions, the frames have to withstand weights of up to 600 kg, exceeding the maximum allowed weight of 300 kg in the standard execution. Therefore, special glass supports and corner cleats were developed. The large glazing panels are combined with a narrow expansion joint of only 16 mm. Thanks to the specially developed profile, the sightlines from outside are identical, both for the fixed glazing as for the opening windows.

The CW 65-EF element façade offers an additional advantage: it is prefabricated completely in the workshop, resulting in a much shorter installation time on the building site.

In harmony with the natural stone used, all metallic parts of the façade were anodised using the adsorptive colouring process in the ‘Bausilber’ (gold) shade from BWB-Sanodal. The matt gold colour of the windows was also repeated inside.

Clarity of image 

Stepping into the entrance area, the materials become more precious as well as optically warmer. Marble takes the place of the Ceppo stone, the walls are panelled with chestnut wood. The centrepiece is the cleanly designed stairwell, which captures attention and draws the eye upwards. Super-height in the entrance area and high ceilings on the upper floors give a generous and spacious effect and allow a lot of natural daylight into the interior of the building.

With its skilful integration into the surrounding area, its proportions and superior materials, the new office and commercial building on Schiffbauplatz is the latest pearl in the upwardly- mobile Zürich West. The refined façade defines the enclosed area and allows the users to enjoy plenty of natural daylight and far-reaching views.

Ernst Schweizer
Baukontor Architekten
Zürich, Svájc
Zeljko Gataric