EM2N fills UBS headquarters with marble and greenery in historical zurich building

EM2N fills UBS headquarters with marble and greenery in historical zurich building

architecture firm EM2N was tasked with refurbishing the historical headquarters of the UBS at 45 bahnhofstrasse in central zurich. over the past, the building had gradually distanced itself more and more from its original structure and appearance, becoming a patchwork made up of buildings from different epochs. the architects’ goal for the renovation was to create a contemporary framework, to emphasize the headquarters’ characteristics and to clearly separate the building’s different functions yet maintain a cohesive and elegant aesthetic throughout.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



EM2N worked closely with hürlemann ag to develop a project starting from the existing architecture with its striking facade and impressive historical rooms. taking the existing canvas as a base, the architects introduced modern elements that enabled a new entity to develop. the combination of the historical and contemporary both make the origin of UBS clear while pointing toward’s the bank’s promising future.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



the central location of the UBS headquarters on the bahnhofstrasse offered an opportunity to encourage everyday interaction between the banks, clients and a broader public. the openly accessible ground floor was designed as an interface space that integrates the headquarters to the urban fabric. the new café at the corner of münzhofgasse opens up the ground floor and additionally activates the pedestrian passageway leading to nüschelerstrasse. at the urban level, various commercial locales continue to bring life to the main street in front of the bank. the floor plan was reorganized by using minimal elements to separate spaces.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



the connecting piece is the historical ‘money hall’ in the münzhof. in addition to the münzhof,  a new, second courtyard was laid out as a garden and inserted in the plan. known as the pelikanhof, this lush green space visually opens up the building’s interiors. at the heart of the floor plan, between the garden space and the historical hall, is the new UBS forum, a space that can be used in a variety of ways. it is an area where the bank can present itself to the public through receptions, events or exhibitions. the freer plan now allows direct views along the sequence of spaces from the bahnhofstrasse through the café into the main hall, the USB forum and the garden of the pelikanhof.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



the main staircase is an impressive spatial focal point that connects all the floors of the headquarters building to each other. the bright staircase with the glazed, central lifts hints at the bank’s transparency and openness. natural light that enters through the roof floods downwards to all the floors, through the clear core. when exiting the staircase, visitors are welcomed into expansive vestibules on either side. the historical rooms were augmented by adding new counterparts that represent a modern interpretation.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



the material palette was chosen around the stone flooring and the glazed roof light of the münzhof. glass roof-lights and aluminium-framed illuminated ceilings provide light for the rooms, while carpet-like stone intarsias delineate the different areas. the palette of stone and glass brings the heterogeneous rooms of the headquarter’s different building together. the new, timeless harmony of materials, contrasting between old and new reflects the brand values of the UBS, transforming their philosophy into an elegant physical space.

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei

© UBS | photographer: roger frei



project info:


location: bahnhofstrasse 45, ch-8001 zurich

client: ubs ag

size: floor area: approx. 40,600 m2

study commission: 2013

planning phase: 2013–2018

construction phase: 2015–2018


team EM2N:


partner: mathias müller, daniel niggli

associate, overall project manager: björn rimner

associate study commission: fabian hörmann

deputy overall project manager: nils heffungs

project team (study commission): rosario badessa, justina czubaszek, salomé genzoni, özgür irban, mathias kampmann, jonas rindlisbacher (model making), oscar rosello, konrad scheffer, jorrit verduin, michele versaci

project team (execution): riccardo acquistapace, john baker, dario bruhin, melanie buettikofer, plamena dimitrova, jesus e. gijón carretero, rouven grom, elodie habert, sophie kaiffer, adam kiryk, janusz maczewski, niklas james parker, wojciech purski, sandra quirós navas, katie schakat, ines schmid, marcellus schwarz, mário serrano, asahi shinoda, sandra šimić, lisa stango, xin su, sandra ten dam, patricia tintoré vilar


team hürlemann:


partner: stephan hürlemann, britta herold

project team: andrea frei, christoph goechnaths, esther hüsser, bea knöpfel, andrea prkic, stefan roovers


specialist planners (selection):


landscape architect: balliana schubert landschaftsarchitekten, zurich

construction consulting / construction economics and cost planning: b+p baurealisation ag, zurich

civil engineer: inge arup ag, berlin; gruner wepf ag, zurich

façade planner: gkp ag, urdorf



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: cristina gomez | designboom

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