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Maaglive: an oasis for working, residential living and cultural activities

Until the late 1970s, Escher-Wyss was a purely industrial area located on the outskirts of the western part of Zurich. The site of the former Maag Zahnräder AG near the Hardbrücke railway station was revitalised by the construction of Prime Tower, the Cubus and Diagonal annex buildings and the Platform corporate building. The buildings continue to shape the region to this day. The Maaglive project now marks the beginning of a new chapter.

Where Prime Tower now soars skyward, factory workers once performed their day-to-day work in industrial halls. Back then, Maag Zahnradfabrik manufactured machine tools, gears, couplings and gear pumps. Today, the Maag site is primarily associated with commercial businesses, service providers and cultural activities. For the past 30 years, various property owners have transformed Zurich-West into a diverse, liveable and loveable district. The construction of office buildings for Zurich Cantonal Bank and Kuoni next to Hardbrücke marked the beginning of this transformation, which was further accelerated at Escher-Wyss-Platz by the new commercial school run by the business association. In 2004, Swiss Prime Site acquired the Maag site and gave it new prominence with the construction of Prime Tower and the surrounding buildings.

From a closed industrial site to an open district centre
Today – almost 20 years later – Maaglive has ushered in a new chapter. The sustainable building project aims to create a new and lively centre for the district. In future, people with a wide variety of different lifestyles will be able to live, work and spend their free time here. As part of a commissioned study, the building owners chose a design by the renowned Berlin-based architectural firm Sauerbruch Hutton. The project envisages reopening the historically listed Building K and adding a residential tower and cultural centre, which will open up the area. The restored «Lichtstrasse» will make the area more accessible and provide important connections to the neighbourhood while at the same time creating a landscaped district square that will be open to the public. Pedestrian paths and bicycle connections as well as a variety of trees with dense foliage will give the district’s new centre a pleasant urban atmosphere.

Maaglive represents living life 
More than anything else, people are what can bring a place to life. Beginning in 2027, the new district centre on the Maag site is expected to consist of Building K, a 14-storey residential tower and a cultural pavilion with various public uses. Residential living, cultural offerings, work and restaurants will be woven together to create a lively mix. The historic Building K will only be minimally renovated and will feature hospitality, studio and co-working spaces. 

Emotionality and diversity drive the vision behind the culture pavilion
The culture pavilion, designed as a wooden structure, will serve as an «indoor public space» and lively venue for the arts, creative industries and local residents, as well as the city of Zurich and beyond. The culture pavilion will provide a new place for cultural activities that is permanent, flexible and inspiring. Such activities previously took place on a temporary basis in the former Maag halls and only at certain times and days of the week. The facilities will be available for use 24 hours a day, which is currently not possible. The ground floor will feature an open design and, together with the city square, will serve as the district’s new gathering spot. Pop-up stores and quieter meeting areas on the first floor will also enrich the new pavilion. Rooms on the top floors will provide ample flexibility and can be used for larger exhibitions, seminars as well as meetings or presentations. 

Residential tower: a perfect symbiosis between life and work
The residential tower, planned as a wood hybrid construction, will round off the site’s extensive range of uses. It will offer space for new forms of living and working. In future, the ground floor will be home to a shop, a café and the reception for the workspace. The work and conference area will lead up a large staircase to the first floor. The upper floors are intended for residential properties, ranging from studios to two- and three-room flats. Tenants will have access to additional work and communal areas on the floors. The attractive new residential concept is complemented by a fitness area, a library and a large, well-landscaped rooftop terrace. 

Sustainable added value for Zurich-West
The new trio of buildings consisting of the residential tower, Building K and the culture pavilion will surround a tree-lined square in the district. The sustainable building concept is in line with the city of Zurich’s plans to lower temperatures, which helps solve a highly relevant problem, especially in a district with many asphalt surfaces. For example, the lush landscaping of the open spaces and rooftops helps reduce the negative effects of hotspots in Zurich-West. Plans by the architectural firm Hager Partners AG in Zurich envisage an open green urban space with many tall trees covering an area of approximately 4 000 m2. This «urban forest» with native plant species will be an area that invites people to take walks and spend time in it. 

Maaglive Festival
The Maaglive Festival was held on the historic Zahnradstrasse in front of Building K on Friday, 26 August 2022. Residents of the district, neighbours, tenants and their friends and families were invited to celebrate the submission of the construction application. In addition to musical acts and artists, there were interactive activities catering to young and old alike. From improvisational theatre and caricaturists to a large canvas on which anyone could draw or paint, there was a little something for everyone. Well-attended project presentations in Atelier K provided an opportunity to learn more about the project by directly engaging with the construction model and project plans and speaking to the project manager and architects. 

News about the project, events in Building K and the exciting Maaglive Talks can be found at:

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