Lightness and openness at UBS (I)

The UBS headquarters at 45 Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich has opened its doors wide after its full refurbishment. The listed facade remains, but the entrance hall of Bahnhofstrasse 45 is now far wider, more open, and more inviting. From the moment they step inside the building, visitors are welcomed into the bright, warm light of the historic main hall.

In the past, the main hall was the only room in the building that was open to visitors. Nowadays, they can access the whole building from here. The main hall has been transformed into a light and spacious expanse, as if by a magician's hand. Even though this large hall, filled with muted light from the atrium above, now looks harmonious and simply right, until recently it was cramped and congested on account of the numerous changes that had been made to it over the course of its more than 100-year history.

The familiar marble floor of the main hall now forms part of a continuous light surface. Countless rectangular white blocks of the size of a chocolate bar have been laid out in perfect formation in a bed made out of randomly arranged local pebbles. This terrazzo floor reflects the light and gently shining ceiling which does not reveal the source of its radiance. The building is flooded with uninterrupted and pleasant light – for the wellbeing of visitors and also to give life to the new oasis at the heart of the building.

A green oasis inside the building? Find out in post II about the lush, green in-house garden and the philosophy behind the glass and marble elevator.