Lightness and openness at UBS (II)

An oasis in the middle of the UBS headquarters? Exactly. Where the Pelikanhof courtyard used to mark the end of the building, there is now a thriving garden right inside the building. In a huge quadrangle, the plants are laid out in a diamond pattern.

The garden is stocked with trees which seem to reach right up to the ceiling and numerous plants – domestic and exotic, pale green and dark green, small and large, with round leaves or reed-like spikes. It is a sensory metaphor for a firm which has local roots but operates globally in a world full of diversity.

Contrasting with the abundance of green in the new garden, on each side stone-tiled walls rise several storeys high, from the UBS Forum right up to the top of the building, housing conference rooms, meeting rooms and gathering places.

This new openness is reflected in the design of the elevator made of frosted looking glass which rises up the central stairwell connecting the various storeys. On closer inspection, the sides of the elevator turn out to be a sandwich structure, consisting of a wafer-thin layer of marble, laminated between two plates of glass – combining transparency and privacy.

Everything behind the solid old walls of the building at Bahnhofstrasse 45 seems – 101 years after it was first constructed – to be much brighter, clearer and altogether more attractive. Everything is bathed in soothing light, openness and transparency: the very essence of expertise and modernity combined.

A visit of the UBS headquarters is also particularly worthwhile because of the beautiful Christmas market that is taking place until 14 December.