Dezeen Magazine

Zurich building by E2A incorporates the facade of a century-old warehouse

Swiss studio E2A infilled the facade of an old Zurich warehouse to create this rehearsal space for the city's opera house, before tacking a 60-metre-high apartment block onto one side (+ slideshow).

Photograph by Georg Aerni

E2A was commissioned by Swiss developer Allreal Holding to create the performance space and apartments as part of a new masterplan for Zurich's Escher Wyss quarter, which overlooks the Limmat river.

Photograph by Georg Aerni

The brief was to refurbish and extend a warehouse built in the early 1900s by Swiss company Escher Wyss, which started out as a textile spinning business before expanding to produce machinery for textiles, power turbines and ship steam engines.

Photograph by Georg Aerni

The company was taken over by a Swiss engineering and manufacturing firm called Sulzer AG in the late 1960s. Since then several of its buildings have been repurposed as cultural venues, and this project becomes the latest.

Photograph by Georg Aerni

The original facade comprises a mixture of pale beige and red bricks with arched window openings.

E2A used pale grey bricks to infill these openings and to extend the facade upwards.

Photograph by Rasmus Norlander
Photograph by Rasmus Norlander

"The new construction absorbs the existing, infusing it with a porous materiality," said E2A's Pia Simmendinger.

"Only the walls were kept of the original building, and the former windows are filled with the new, grey brick."

Photograph by Jan Bitter

This building now houses two rehearsal stages and changing rooms for the Zurich opera house, as well as workshops for the production of stage sets.

Photograph by Radek Brunecky

The tapered tower – named Escher Terrace High-Rise Apartments – protrudes from one side of the old warehouse. It accommodates 50 apartments organised in eight-metre-high modules.

Photograph by Rasmus Norlander
Photograph by Rasmus Norlander

"By weaving the existing industrial elements with the residential tower, the building engages with an unusual urban situation, standing slightly offset from the street," Simmendinger told Dezeen.

Photograph by Rasmus Norlander
Photograph by Rasmus Norlander

The south side of the tower is chamfered, providing a sloping facade that integrates rows of glass-fronted balconies, which offer views over the city centre and Lake Zurich.

Photograph by Rasmus Norlander
Photograph by Rasmus Norlander

"The inclination of the tower reduces the existing depth of 25 metres and allows it to generate a terraced housing," added Simmendinger.

"The terraces have a south exposure and leave the noisy street in the north behind."

Photograph by Radek Brunecky

Photography is by Georg Aerni, Rasmus Norlander, Radek Brunecky and Jan Bitter.

Project credits:

Architecture: E2A
Client: Allreal Holding
Team: Wim Eckert, Piet Eckert with Nils Döring and Anna Maria Tosi, Sabine Bayer, Samuel Benz, Daniel Bock, Vesna Brandestini, Carolin Döpfer, Christian Dürr, Cristina Gonzalo Nogués, Bryan Graf, Philipp Heidemann, Harris Iliadis, Aidan Kümmerli, Valentino Sandri, Mireya Sanchez Gomez, Alexander Struck
Collaboration: Artistic Collaboration: Hans-Peter Kistler, Beinwil
General contractor: Allreal Generalunternehmung AG, Zurich
Structural engineering: JägerPartner AG Bauingenieure SIA, Zurich
Landscape consulting: Schmid Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH, Zurich
Facade engineering: Atelier P3 AG, Zurich
Building physics: Buri Bauphysik & Akustik, Volketswil
MEP: Troxler & Partner AG, Ruswil

Site plan – click for larger image
Plans – click for larger image