CITY DENSIFICATION - People are increasingly moving from rural to urban areas. There are numerous reasons for this. For example, many young people move to major cities to study or work. However, the middle-aged and seniors also prefer to stay in cities or move to them due to the entertainment and recreational possibilities they offer. Furthermore, the social trend towards living single leads to more people looking for connection in the anonymous and diverse environment of a big city. Accommodating the large number of new residents requires a lot of living space. This means denser housing development, i.e. more buildings that are bigger and taller.
‘Densification’ is the magic word for filling free spaces in the current land development of cities. This includes additions of new floors, building extensions, closure of gaps between buildings, and rearrangement of buildings themselves. Former parking spaces and industrial zones are used for this, being repurposed as land for residential buildings. Densification is a sensible way to build cities also from the viewpoint of sustainability. Less agricultural land is covered in concrete on the edges of the cities, and the already available urban infrastructure and street, electricity, water and telephone connections can be used.
In Switzerland, too, there are still some old industrial areas that have potential for rezoning. One of the best known of these is without doubt the Europaallee in Zurich. SBB (Swiss Federal Railways), the city of Zurich and the postal service have been working together on implementing this project since 2003. The new urban part of the city is connected to its current infrastructure and is linked to the local commercial and restaurant services.
However, very few densification projects have such a scale. Landolt Areal is a significantly smaller project that was completed at the same time. Fifty-two high-quality flats were built in the former production area of the Landolt winery. In order to create added value for the residents in this area highly influenced by urban development axes, the design by Bünzli & Courvoisier Architekten includes interleaving of the buildings with the surrounding green areas (such as Sihlhölzli and the Sihl riverside). High-quality products were used in the construction, ensuring sustainability through their better durability, for example.
Densification is also used as a tool for creating more living space in Hamburg. The Uptownhouses are a clear example of new high-quality residential estates in Hamburg planned by eight different architecture firms. The 26 designer townhouses create together a new and attractive residential area, impressing with their sustainability, quality and added value for the surroundings. The typology of a townhouse should create a reference for the surrounding area, make flexible use of changing living and work requirements possible, and correspond to the local features.