ETH Zurich: The university district in Zurich’s city centre will be developed further as location for medical education, research and healthcare

ZURICH, 16-9-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — The university district in Zurich’s city centre is to be developed further as a location for medical education, research and healthcare. At the beginning of September, the canton, the city and the universities presented the plan to local residents.

The university district in the centre of Zurich is to be developed further as an internationally competitive location with a focus on university medicine in the coming decades. This long-term project has been agreed upon between the canton and the city of Zurich, the university hospital, the university and ETH Zurich. Its planning and development goals have been laid down in the joint master plan which was published on 8 September (as reported in ETH News).

The master plan is a basis for the construction projects with which the university hospital and the universities can renovate their structural and operational infrastructures in the next ca. 30 years. This development will have an impact on the surrounding neighbourhoods and accordingly demands tactful planning and a dialogue with local residents.

Discussion with local residents

On Monday evening, the planners invited the residents of the Oberstrass and Hottingen neighbourhoods to the University of Zurich to inform them first-hand on how they see the development of the university district and what they are planning for the coming years.

Besides the two speakers, Government councillor Markus Kägi and City councillor André Odermatt, there were also Rita Ziegler, Managing Director of University Hospital Zurich, Michael Hengartner, President of the University of Zurich, Roman Boutellier, Vice President for Human Resources and Infrastructure of ETH Zurich, Wilhelm Natrup, head of the cantonal Office for Spatial Development, and Peter E. Bodmer, delegate of the development planning of the university hospital (Berthold project), who answered the audience’s questions in the tightly packed lecture hall KOH-B-10.

Here, in “the university’s most avant-garde and attractive lecture hall” (according to the ZS student journal), a very animated discussion took place between the audience and the planners. Questions concerned mainly the new buildings for the hospital, the location of the high-rise buildings, the sports facilities, traffic and the planning schedule. The speakers showed that the planning area of the new master plan corresponds to that of 2005 and has remained the same in many parts. New features are the development focal points for the university hospital and the health sciences.

Space for parks, pedestrians and cyclists

Green spaces will play an important role. For example, the idea of a “garden border”, developed by Christophe Girot, ETH professor for landscape architecture, in the 2005 master plan will be continued. It consists in an extension of the Rechberg garden on the slope between the universities and the old town. In addition, the hospital park will be upgraded and a new park will be created near the Sternwarte.

In order to link the university district effectively to Stadelhofen, Bellevue, the old town and the main station, new access ways for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists are planned. The connection to Bellevue, however, remains a challenge in terms of traffic planning. The historic Häfeli-Steiger-Moser hospital buildings are incorporated in the master plan. Furthermore, new sports halls for secondary schools, the universities, associations and the public are planned.

Moving out of residential buildings

A point that was inquired about and discussed intensely was the future of residential space in the university district. The 2014 master plan contains the goal that the universities give back the apartment buildings that are currently occupied by institutes. The plan is that the universities vacate houses and apartments outside the university district in particular.

For the university district itself, the main goal is to concentrate and renovate the buildings and facilities for teaching, research and healthcare. Zurich should also be a centre for research, said City councillor André Odermatt.

As contractually agreed between ETH and the city of Zurich, residential buildings are currently being vacated. ETH Vice President Roman Boutellier signalled willingness to hold a further discussion with residents of Sonneggstrasse.

Local residents can bring their concerns into the planning process: from 12 September the legally binding structure plan will be opened to the public for two months. In the meantime, layout plans will be developed and the environmental impact assessment will be carried out. After that, the plans will be submitted to the cantonal parliament. The first architectural competitions can be held starting in 2016.

Short film (in German) on the master plan with ETH Rector Lino Guzzella. (Photo: Canton of Zurich Building Department)
The university district is to be developed as a research campus and city neighbourhood. On 8 September, local residents were informed about the master plan. (Photo: Canton of Zurich Building Department)

The university district is to be developed as a research campus and city neighbourhood. On 8 September, local residents were informed about the master plan. (Photo: Canton of Zurich Building Department)

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