Haefeli Moser Steiger - Switzerland
Comercial Building Zur Palme
Bleicherweg 33, Zürich
1955 - 1964

The comercial building "Zur Palme" is the most important project realized by the office Haefeli Moser Steiger in the economic heyday of the fifties and sixties.
Haefeli Moser Steiger themself considered this high-rise construction on the edge of downtown Zurich to be of a programmatic value. This appraisel relied less to
the architecture itself, but rather to the related urban solution. The building with its fourteen floors is a high-rise building of Swiss coinage. The building was realized towards
 the end of the skyscraper debate which was held not only in circles of Swiss architects and planners, but also in the wider public since the late forties. In this debate
Werner M. Moser was one of the spokesmen. The architects combined the central office tower with a two story tract intended for shops. This two story volume follows
 the building fixing limiting lines of the bordering roads. This combination creates a synthesis of innovative and conventional conceptions, which is typical of the entire
work of Haefeli Moser Steiger. The intended plasticity, mass organization and sculptural effect of the architectural design offered an alternative to the then most influential
model of international high-rise architecture, in the shape of the reduced steel and glass architecture by Mies van der Rohe. From the outset of the planning, the architectural
office of Haefeli Moser Steiger met
benevolent support of the local authorities as well as an almost exclusively positive reception by the public for the project. Nevertheless,
the history of the comercial building "Zur Palme" is also a story of failure. This applies not only to the expected function of the complex as an exemplary condensation point
for new developments. It also applies to the intended effect of the splitted and differentiated building masses. Seen from distance, for example from the shore or from
the Zurich mountain the office tower actually seems to have a bit of those portly block form that was criticized the Zurich city president in the finished building.

Haefeli Moser Steiger received the order for the planning of the then largest office building in Switzerland as direct application of a community of heirs.
Previously William Dunkel had submitted a preliminary project in April 1955. With
the approximately 5500 square meter measuring property, this community
of heirs
possessed one of the last big plots in the Enge district between the Paradeplatz and the train station Enge. Befor the construction, this site was a park-like area,
a neoclassical house built according to plans by Johann Jakob Keller in the years 1835-1837 and a slightly older farm building. As early as May 1955,
Werner M. Moser began to deal intensively with the project. By the end of 1955 three alternative preliminary projects were elaborated along with a comparative project
for a closed five- to six-story perimeter block development building in accordance with the building regulations. The preliminary projects were of varying quality,
and there was obviously a main design
. This main design had been worked out comparatively detailed. This proposal was presented as a tower, which was centered
around a circulation core. The four wings were arranged like a windmill. The comparison project was necessary for Haefeli Moser Steiger to determine the gross area
 in accordance with building regulations. In addition, it has been successfully used by the architects to win building owners, government agencies, residents, media and
the public for their project. The architects argued that the perimeter block development would bring the urban disadvantage of narrow street spaces and hermeticly closed
street fronts. In the building itself, there would emerge second-class office spaces and an associated return loss would be the consequence. In contrast,
the windmill form has been cited as an additional advantage. By this arrangement, the shading of the neighboring land would be minimized, it would be avoided
a cumbersome appearance of the building and all the rooms would get an optimum exposure to daylight and views.

Based on the favored preliminary design
the approval project was elaboreted in 1956. This approval project corresponds largely to the realized building.
This project shows a two-storey shop tract, which
is staggered along the building fixing limiting line and is partially concealed by large pre-existing trees.
This two-story tract frames the high-rise construction, which is set back far from the building line and thus integrates well with the neighbouring premises
in perspective.
The eleven-storey tower sits on a concrete table, which is supported by eight huge columns. The main building sits above the roof of the shop tract, which acts as
a parking lot. Only the central circulation core of the skyscraper comes into contact with the ground floor. This allowed to create covered shopping passages under the high-rise.
Through this layout, openings have been achieved which have been highlighted as one of the main subjects of the draft. According Haefeli Moser Steiger the parcel "Zur Palme"
was the first cityblock which allowed to be crossed in different directions.

The 14-storey commercial building reaches
a height of around 50 meters with the elevater structures. The architects took advantage of the maximum utilization allowed on this plot.
From the perspective of the architects, a greater height would have been desirable. However, this had no chance of approval, though the height is not spectacular at all
in international comparisons. Within the cityscape the building "Zur Palme" acts more as a compact solid than as slim height dominant. In closer examination,
on encounters a thoughtfully designed construction, built of exposed concrete which unfolds an impressive effect - partially expressive and partially as an elegant
architectural sculpture exposing and bold staging of the concrete structure. The plastical effect is based on different measures. On the one hand on the combination
of low and high volumes, on the other hand on formal details. For example, the prismatic shape of the eight mighty concrete pillars, or on the expressive elements
like the roofing of the 100 parking spaces with corrugated Eternit plates on diagonally cantilevering concrete beams. Another important element of this plastically
design language is the self-supporting double spiral ramp.