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Town planning Zurich's controversial district

A new development is springing up in the heart of Zurich city. Directly behind the tracks of the main station, the "Europaallee" stretches right up to district 4 of the old town. A mix of work space, apartments, hotels, restaurants, shops, leisure and educational facilities are being built.

Swiss Federal Railwaysexternal link (SBB) not only owns of the 78,000 square metre site, but also the buildings. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2009 and the last construction phase is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Rarely has such a projectexternal link, which features a dense mixture of buildings, polarised opinion to this extent. Everyone is talking about it: from conservationists to building planners, urban developers and everyday citizens. In 2006, 65% of the city's population voted in favour of the project.

Some believe that Europaalleeexternal link will act as a catalyst for gentrification: expensive buildings are being constructed for commercial usage, which leave no room for the "ordinary Zurich citizen". Others, on the other hand, believe that the former problem district of Langstrasseexternal link will be revitalised and upgraded by the new development.

However, most people agree that the Europaallee lacks character as yet. The development is well visited only during rush hour. Perhaps the recently opened cinema and cultural centre "Kosmosexternal link" will help to give it more cultural and social flair.

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