Zurich working group for urban development - Zürcher Arbeitsgruppe für Städtebau

The Zurich Working Group for Urban Development (ZAS) was an association of young architects that was founded in Zurich in 1959 and existed until 1989. The group tried to participate in the development of the city of Zurich with project proposals and political initiatives . Important members were Eduard Neuenschwander , Beate Schnitter , Benedikt Huber , Manuel Pauli and Peter Steiger . [1]


After the Second World War, more and more young architects criticized modernism, which was based on science and technology . In the global context were CIAM dissolved and established several new groups, especially the Team X . The strictly functional organization of the city and the ruthless methods of achieving this were mainly criticized. The interest of the architecture and urban development discourse shifted to social factors and a humanistic and democratic understanding of the city. [2] The Zurich working group for urban development should also be understood in this context. The association was founded in 1959 by a group of architects working at the ETH Zurichhad been trained and had their first buildings completed by the time. They were interested in the city as a democratic organization and tried to find a synthesis of their research in humanistic urban planning. The association quickly attracted new members, in addition to architects, town planners, civil engineers, a lawyer and a biologist. The ZAS was politically well connected and some of the members were also part of the Zurich Building Construction Office. As an organization, they have always been active in the canton of Zurich and tried to achieve their goals not only with political initiatives, but also with concrete counter-proposals.


One of the first ZAS projects was the campaign to maintain the Zurich meat hall . In a counter-proposal to the planned demolition of one of the last river buildings that were typical for the city, they showed how the building could be converted into a “Limmat Gallery” with a restaurant, café and shops. The referendum that was taken was unsuccessful, but the ZAS entered the public eye for the first time. Shortly afterwards the ZAS got involved again in the political discussion about the development of Zurich. This time it was the Zürcher Expressstrassen-Y , the connection of two motorway sections with an elevated road over the river basin of the Sihl, to prevent. Thanks to the association's good relations with the city of Zurich, they succeeded in winning an order to work out an alternative proposal. The interdisciplinary group formed by the ZAS could prove the one hand, that an alternative road tour of the Sihltalbahn is technically possible, on the other hand they presented their visions of urban expansion along the freely played Sihlufers. The city could not be convinced of the alternative project and the construction of the Sihlhochstrasse was pushed ahead. However, the ZAS did not give up the fight and was ultimately able to prevent the completion of the huge infrastructure project together with other actors.

Through the numerous activities of the association, the ZAS acquired a certain competence in urban planning issues and was invited to participate in the competition for an urban expansion in the area between Zurich and Adliswil in 1962 . Beate Schnitter , Benedikt Huber and Hans Litz took over the management of the project because it was not possible to take part in the competition as an association. The competition program envisaged living space for 10,000 residents, as well as infrastructure and community buildings. [3]The ZAS contribution "Jolieville" was unanimously awarded first prize in 1964 and recommended for execution. The various owners of the parcels commissioned the ZAS planning group to process the extensive construction project. The realization of this large-scale and formative project failed in the 1970s for various reasons. The need for housing fell sharply after the first oil crisis and some of the landowners preferred to build a shopping center on the site. [4]

Members of the ZAS also managed to significantly shape the cityscape with their realized buildings. Eduard Neuenschwander achieved international fame with his iconic Rämibühl canton school . Manuel Pauli was responsible for the town hall bridge on the Limmat and Niklaus Kuhn shaped Zurich's residential construction with his well-known Brahmshof and Limmatwest settlements, which he built with Walter Fischer.

List of members [5]

  • Rolf Keller
  • Eduard Neuenschwander
  • Jakob Schilling
  • Werner Dubach
  • Manuel Pauli
  • Ruedi Brennenstuhl
  • Beate Schnitter
  • Giorgio Crespo
  • Wendel Gelpke
  • René Haubensak
  • Hans Litz
  • Jakob Maurer
  • Lorenz Moser
  • Fritz Peter
  • Peter Steiger
  • Heinz Ronner
  • Fritz Schwarz
  • Benedikt Huber
  • Alfred Trachsel
  • Peter Trautvetter
  • Niklaus Kuhn
  • Erwin Zurmühle
  • Hans Barbe
  • Peter Kelterborn
  • Bruno Wick
  • Walter Moser
  • Hanspeter vine seeds
  • Walter Steinebrunner
  • Heinz Hönger
  • Heinz Hess
  • Rudolf Schilling
  • Norbert Ruoss
  • Marcel Thoenen
  • Martin Küper
  • Peter Lanz
  • Beat Maeschi

Individual evidence

  1. Benedikt Huber: The ZAS city vision and its significance for Zurich: Zurich working group for urban development 1959-89: a documentation , Swiss engineer and architect, 2000
  2. ^ Suggestions from the Zurich working group. Free spaces - tolerance spaces. Zurich: 1981.
  3. ^ Working group Moos-Lebern Adliswil development: Moos-Lebern Adliswil planning report 1968 , 1968
  4. Benedikt Huber: The ZAS city vision and its significance for Zurich: Zurich working group for urban development 1959-89: a documentation , Swiss engineer and architect, 2000
  5. Benedikt Huber: The ZAS city vision and its significance for Zurich: Zurich working group for urban development 1959-89: a documentation , Swiss engineer and architect, 2000