Since the 1990s, the site of the former Maag cogwheel factory has been undergoing a process of transformation from industrial site to urban quarter. After a few years of spontaneous interim use, the 36-storey Prime Tower and two further 7-storey administrative buildings were built on the first part of the site in 2011. The historic "Diagonal Building" was renovated and made usable for offices and studios. With the upgrading of the second part of the site, the entire area is now to be turned into a livable location for culture, housing and working that meets the contemporary requirements for a good quality of urban life.

The design proposes the creation of a green square in the middle of the site, opening up the currently enclosed area. This intervention will first free up the historic Building K so that its cultural and gastronomic offers face out onto the square. A 15-storey high-rise with a mix of residential and commercial uses on the ground floor defines the eastern flank of the square. On the west side, there is currently an industrial hall that has been converted for temporary use by the Tonhalle Orchestra. If needed, this part of the ensemble can be preserved.

Alternatively, in line with the site’s provisional arrangement, a four-storey culture house, or Kulturhaus, will be built, offering various setups suitable for exhibitions, events and gastronomy. The overall project thus completes the connection to the footpath and cycle path network, as the location opens up in all directions for the first time. Spatially and programmatically, the new green neighbourhood square will become the starting point for a new lively cultural quarter.

The project pursues an ambitious sustainability programme: both the Kulturhaus and the high-rise building are to be constructed as low-CO2 timber hybrid structures according to the Minergie Plus standard. All new building structures are as flexible as the historic Building K and allow fluid changes of use throughout their life cycle. The appearance of the houses responds to the materiality of the surroundings - guided by the image of the city as a palimpsest perpetuated from generation to generation.


  • development of an urban quarter with a new high-rise building for mixed uses and a cultural centre


  • Swiss Prime Site Immobilien AG


  • gross floor area: 20.280 m²
  • competition: 2020, 1st prize
  • 2021 — 2025

project team

Andrea Damin

Federica Dino

Cristian Gheorghe

Fotios Gkrilias

Asya Güney

Axel Ibarroule

Denis Kolesnikov

Nan Liu

Denise Murray Schlegel

Nelson Schleiff

Gregory Then

Johanna Wörner