Thursday, April 5, 2012



The expansion of the historic Stadelhofen Station in Zurich, Switzerland, is a celebrated work by the Spanish architect-engineer-sculptor Santiago Calatrava. The Valencian architect utilized a "Neo-Art Nouveau" style, somehow reminiscent of Gaudi's architecture, by  using both metallic elements and concrete structures, and created a proposal to solve difficult functional issues, in addition to spatially and visually linking different urban areas.


The original  Stadelhofen station was built in neoclassical style and dates from 1894, linking this district to the central Zurich.Stadelhofen is located on a hill parallel to the lake. 

In 1990, changes were made to the city railway network and it was also required to link this area with Kreuzbühl Street, which runs parallel but at a lower level, and to the small square to which many streetcar lines converge.


The extension of the station was not an easy project to undertake, since it was a cyrve section, with a pronounced slope. Calatrava was the winner of a contest by proposing to excavate part of the hill to accommodate various functions and then rebuild the topography with a new aesthetic.

The project consists of 4 areas:

Underground galleries

The underground space that allows the transit between the different platforms, in addition to host shops and other activities, is framed by sculptural arches. The galleries are naturally lit trough glass blocks embedded on the platforms.


Both platforms are covered by galleries, but they have been conceived in a very different manner.

The platform closest to the hill is massive and supports a gallery made of concrete by means of steel columns.

The opposite gallery, however, is transparent and of a very light appearance, made of metal and laminated glass, that somehow evokes the entrances to the Metro of Paris, made in style Art Nouveau style by Hector Grimard. The steel columns are separated every 9 m and they are connected to a tube that works in tension.

Upper gallery

This longitudinal passage is supported not only by the columns on the platform, but also suspended by metal structures anchored to the concrete.

This gallery displays a favorite subject of Calatrava, the succession of metallic elements which together make up a skeleton that defines a virtual space.

Two bridges connect the street level above with the Kreuzbühlstrasse street, and  which I found reminiscent of some details of the Milla House by Antonio Gaudi .

Upper garden

This terrace acts as an extension of public space, like an urban balcony facing the lake.The posts and furniture have been conceived as sculptural elements that afford a playful character to this terrace.

Moreover, the structures support vegetation as an extension of the garden into the gallery above.

 Both the shape of the metallic structures, the slope of the concrete wall and the projection of the bridges denote the intention to link visually the upper and lower level of the station, with a smooth but at the same time dynamic transition .



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  1. Absolutamente hermoso. Gracias por compartir.

  2. Thank you for this nice overview. It should be noted, though, that the Bahnhof Stadelhofen competition was not won by Calatrava alone. In fact, the Swiss Federal Railways had asked eight architects to propose ideas, but Calatrava, at that time just an unknown newbie, was not among them. It was Swiss architect Arnold Amsler who had been invited to participate and who asked Calatrava to join his team as an engineer along with Werner Rüeger, a Swiss landscape architect. The three won the competition jointly. Moreover, the team did not win because they proposed to excavate part of the hill, as suggested in your review, because that was a condition that all participating architects had to fulfill, as the third railway track could only be built into the hill as there was no space on the other side of the two preexisting tracks. The primary reason why the team won the competition is that they did not provide for any new buildings above ground, made a clear cut between the hill and the square in front of the station building, and managed to maximize the green space on the hill while preserving the buildings that were already there.

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