Wasserstadt Solothurn
Solothurn, Switzerland
Project 2006–2007, 2011

The Wasserstadt Solothurn project is based on the planned rehabilitation of the former waste disposal site on the outskirts of Solothurn and proposes a sustainable development that will transform this area on the banks of the Aare river into a unique urban landscape. Following a preliminary study in 2006/2007 we now present this new waterside district that takes into account detailed hydraulic analyses and the principles of overall sustainability and responds to the ambitious goals of the “2000 watt per capita” society.

It is envisaged that the thoroughly decontaminated and rehabilitated site will incorporate a new bend in the Aare river which will divide the project perimeter into a continuous strip on the “mainland” and an island. The new development is situated in direct proximity to the town of Solothurn on the intact “mainland” site. The island is to be left largely in a natural state to offset the construction ecologically. In this way, a new waterside district will be created at the juncture between the landscape conservation area of Witi and the western edge of the city, providing an exceptionally high quality of life with a distinct potential for community identity.

The development follows the curve of the new bend in the river. The district consists of two ring roads and four rows of low-rise buildings along the waterside. The newly formed riverbank is accessed by a public promenade. Squares, streets and paths form connections between the ring roads and the riverside promenade and structure the settlement into different sectors. The layout of the Wasserstadt Solothurn aims to provide each member of the community with a strong link with the water, both through direct acces to the river and through plentiful vistas and views, by forming the site like a grandstand, with stepped tiers down towards the waterside. In addition to the views this provides, the tiered structure enables a mix of different building types in each section of the district.

About one third of the Wasserstadt Solothurn development consists of public spaces. Public and local services are concentrated around the three large squares at the main entrances to Wasserstadt Solothurn, thereby anchoring the new neighbourhood within its surroundings and lending it a distinctive image and identity. The settlement has two main roads. The outer ring road, like an avenue in a park, forms a broad and generously dimensioned main access road. On leaving this road, the traffic is immediately calmer, with fewer vehicles and lower speeds. The inner ring (or Gartenstrasse) is a narrow street flanked by hedges and fences. Aiming to minimise the presence of cars within the community, a wide range of easily accessible alternative forms of transport is provided,.

From the Eastern square, a bridge leads to the green lung of the district, which can be used for environmentally low-impact outdoor facilities such as a campsite, rowing club and farm. The island, left in its natural state, balances out the urban development. At the northern side of the predominantly flat island landscape with its trees, groves and open meadows the ground rises gently to provide views over the Wasserstadt Solothurn and as far as the southern flanks of the Jura.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2012


Herzog & de Meuron Team 2011:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Robert Hösl, Christine Binswanger
Project Architects: Martin Fröhlich (Associate), Salomé Gutscher
Project Team: Mark Bähr, Frederik Bojesen, Christoph Jantos, Benjamin Krüger, Christopher Lunde, Mika Zacharias

Herzog & de Meuron Team 2006-2007:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Harry Gugger
Project Architects: Julian Löffler, Catherine Preiswerk
Project Team: Hee-Jun Sim

Wasserstadtsolothurn AG, Solothurn, Switzerland