Hönger, not Calatrava

John Hill, Elias Baumgarten
21. November 2019
Visualization © SBB

The competition deciding the architect of the extension of Santiago Calatrava's Zurich Stadelhofen from 1990 has wrapped up, and Giuliani Hönger Architekten with Caretta Weidmann have won over Calatrava and other competitors.

More than 750 trains stop at Zurich Stadelhofen every day, with 80,000 travelers using the third largest station in the canton. In terms of passenger traffic, it is the seventh largest in Switzerland, but with only three tracks it is chronically clogged. Given that the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) expects an even higher frequency in the coming years, the station needs a fourth track. The anonymous competition SBB held for the design of the extension was recently decided, with the team of Giuliani Hönger Architekten and Caretta Weidmann winning unanimously with their "Elysion" proposal.

Existing Stadelhofen station, with two tracks visible in the center and the third located next to the dark wall at left. Above the concrete soffit at left is a promenade connecting to the Hohe Promenade. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

The decisive factor in their scheme being selected was the construction of the new subterranean tunnel through a mining technique that would not require a large excavation pit in the area of the Hofe Promenade; the station's distinctive steel structure would also be preserved. The old station building, which predates Calatrava's expansion of the station 30 years ago, will be extended with new wings and once again serve as the main entrance. Passengers will move from above-ground access points to the existing shopping arcade in the basement and finally to the fourth track: a significant improvement per a press release from the SBB.

Drawing © SBB

Calatrava attempted to stop the competition earlier this year, fearing that his work — an early, significant work in his oeuvre — would be disfigured. He went to the Federal Administrative Court, but they dropped his complaint and allowed the competition to move forward. He did not win, obviously, with his suitably named submission: "Coherence."

A version of this article originally appeared as "Giuliani Hönger statt Santiago Calatrava" on Swiss-Architects.

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