Hardbrücke, Prime Tower © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com

Hardbrücke

Ingenieurbüro Benno Bennardi / Extension: M. & E. Boesch Architekten, Zürich 1969-1973 / 2009-2011

We heart Hardbrücke: How this colossal 70s bridge went from unloved super-polluter to urban cool hotspot

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 perception of concrete in people’s minds. In the wake of the oil crisis and the emerging environmental movement, the bridge quickly fell into disrepute.

The regeneration of the industrial quarter into a nightlife destination this side of the millennium and a comprehensive bridge makeover put the bad rep to bed for good. Today the section between Hardbrücke station, Prime Tower and Frau Gerold’s Garten serves as the go-to location for ad people and tv crews to stage “urban cool”. And why not. It is, after all, one of the very rare places in Switzerland that actually do manage to face up to their counterparts in London or New York. The coming together of post-industrial regeneration, club culture and urban gardening aesthetics tap brilliantly into the zeitgeist and prove a perennially popular hangout for hipsters, bankers and Gen Airbnb.

Post-facelift, Hardbrücke bridge not only features a sleek silhouette and elegantly curved stairs, but also offers plenty of space for a tram line, pedestrians and cyclists. For the latter, the former exhaust fumes guzzler has even become a place of pilgrimage of sorts: at the “Ride for your Rights” rallies across the city, thousands of urban cyclists regularly take it in their stride.

Hardbrücke, Freitag Tower, Prime Tower © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke, Prime Tower © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke, Prime Tower © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke, Tram © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com
Hardbrücke, Detail View © Karin Bürki, Heartbrut.com, 2021. Explore more on Heartbrut.com

© Karin Bürki/Heartbrut

Karin Bürki

Karin Bürki

Words & Photography: Karin Bürki

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