In 1973, Zurich’s industrial quarter was a grey and dreary place. The newly inaugurated Hardbrücke bridge brought additional noise and exhaust fumes. A typical product of the car-first urban planning of the boom years, the concrete colossus ate its way like a gigantic wedge from Hardplatz in district 4 over the railway tracks right through the industrial district to Wipkingerplatz. Worse still, the universally unloved air polluter contributed significantly to cementing the negative image of concrete in people’s minds. In the wake of the oil crisis and the emerging environmental movement, the bridge quickly fell into disrepute.
Today, the redesigned bridge is a much-photographed backdrop in a hip neighbourhood. It not only boasts a sleek silhouette and elegantly curved stairs, but also plenty of space for a tram line, pedestrians and cyclists. And yet. Now in its fifties, Hardbrücke has lost none of its talent for courting controversy, regularly pitting motorists against climate activists.