Beneath the Stone Arches
Construction is somewhat commonplace here in Zürich. I am forever finding creative ways to artistically avoid cranes in my photos. And it seems that the city is constantly busy re-renovating something, making it even more perfect than it already seemed to be to me. I don’t often stop to read the fine print, but when biking towards the industrial-gone-trendy neighborhood of Zürich early last year, I squeezed the brakes when I saw the word “Markthalle” and a sketch of a 500 meter-long market street. Construction was already underway to create a unique shopping structure beneath the Wipkinger and Letten viaducts (both of which were built by hand by more than 6,000 workers just before 1900), that would include Zürich’s first covered market.
As early as April of this year, while construction forged ahead on the market hall, the first of the stores opened their doors. I hurried over to see this highly anticipated addition to Zürich’s shopping scene and especially the architecture, which is fascinating. Swiss architects EM2N had won first place in an architectural design competition in 2004 for an ambitious refurbishment of Zürich?s viaduct arches. The theme: “transform the space under the city?s historic structure into usable cultural and commercial attractions.”
Boutique walls are the very stone structure of the viaduct arches, and each shop has huge bubble-like skylights allowing for natural light. There is an amazing juxtaposition of old/rugged and modern/sleek. What was once a very old railway viaduct in a rather unappealing location, separating the industrial neighborhood from the center of town, is now an attraction in itself, potentially linking those two areas. With the masses of people that will be heading that way to shop, browse, eat or stroll around, the grungier surrounding area is sure to see a transformation too.
The Viadukt’s interactive website has tons of information and you can see each of the 50 shops that are under the 36 arches, with a preview of their independent websites. There’s truly something for everyone: clothing, accessories, shoes, electronics, books, modern furniture and artists’ and graphic designers’ studios too. I hear there are even going to be tango lessons somewhere there soon! In addition to the Markthalle Restaurant in the market itself, there are two cafés and the Restaurant Viadukt. If you love exposed stone like I do, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere inside any which spot you choose.
Now into the Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich’s first permanent covered market. We still have the large and fantastic food market in the main train station on Wednesdays, but this one is open 6 days a week, except Sunday of course. The quality of the products is exemplary; they have truly brought together the cream of the crop, local farmers and artisans showcasing their fruit, vegetables, cheeses, sausages, wine, fresh pasta and more. But as some may have expected, that quality comes with a price, and I even went home empty-handed. But I’ll be back soon to make some good value finds. I had my eye on a few things at the Slow Food stand, the oat cakes at the (British) Pie Shop, breads and tarts at St Jakob Beck & Confiserie and just about everything at Berg und Tal (Engandiner Nusstorten, Gianottis chocolates, mini Iranian figs…).
While one side of the viaduct may seem less than glamorous, with the remnants of industrial factories and plenty of colorful graffiti, the other side is all green. A clean, spacious park has been drawing crowds these past few months at even the slightest sign of true summer. There are tables and chairs and playground areas for kids. Very little parking space has been created to encourage people to come on foot or bike, and there are tram stops (4, 13) right by the entrance. In true Swiss fashion, every detail has been carefully thought out, catering to both residents and visitors alike.
Markthalle Im Viadukt
Im Viadukt: http://www.im-viadukt.ch/