Acting sustainably means taking responsibility

The timing and current position of the two site development projects are very different – the Metalli site is now a bustling district of Zug, while the Suurstoffi site is in the midst of the construction process. However, one thing has not changed: when Zug Estates decides to develop a whole site sustainably, it makes an active commitment to the place and to the people who live and work there – and that includes assuming social responsibility.

It is nearly three decades since the first phase of the Metalli site was opened. In many respects, 1987 was a different era – life went on at a slower pace in what was still mainly the analog age. The concept of sustainability, in the sense of developing a building – or even an entire neighborhood – with a view to the long term, was unknown. With hindsight, the decision to convert the site of the Zug metal factory (which at that time was considered rather a long way out of the city despite being close to the railway station) into a vibrant district seems visionary and courageous – and it meant assuming responsibility for a place which in those days resembled the ugly duckling rather than a proud swan. After all, what has now turned out to be such a success was anything but a safe bet in the mid-1980s. Today, the Metalli site is a central location serving the city of Zug. With its excellent accessibility, the site provides work for 2 000 people and homes for 700 residents.

The thoughtful incorporation of existing buildings is essential if an area is to be developed sustainably.

Active commitment to a forward-looking society

One of the reasons why the venture succeeded and a multifaceted, lively district was created is that back then at the planning, development and construction stage, Zug Estates took account of a number of elements that we now know to be necessary if a district is to be developed sustainably. High quality urban development is a fundamental requirement of a functioning neighborhood. A balanced interplay of buildings and open space. What counts above all are good houses, built for the long term to high architectural standards and yet flexible enough to be able to respond to change. Outside spaces are just as important, and these must be designed to meet the diverse needs of the users while offering both freedom and security. Furthermore, sustainable mobility is required – with bicycles and pedestrian traffic playing key roles – as well as good public transport links, ideally complemented by car sharing schemes. Another requirement is mixed use, including homes, jobs, businesses and services – with ground floor public Areas essential to the quality of the public spaces. In addition to open structures that can respond to changing conditions, there must also be room for preservation of the area's history, since maintaining its identity is a vital part of its future. Last but not least is the commitment of the participants: developers that not only want to create neighborhoods worth living in for a long time to come, but are also ready to assume responsibility accordingly; public authorities that not only demand quality but also create the necessary conditions for it; and, ideally, users who are involved in their neighborhood.

Public areas on the ground floor are essential for the quality and usefulness of the external space.

The goal

In this respect, what applied to the Metalli site in the mid-1980s is true for the Suurstoffi site today: it is a promise to the future – not least from the property developers, which are once again taking responsibility and setting ambitious goals for the site in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact. On completion, the site in Risch Rotkreuz with above average accessibility will provide 3 000 jobs and be home to 1 500 people – all with CO2-free operation and no use of external energy sources. Nearly 1 000 people already live and work in the Suurstoffi district. We don't know what Rotkreuz will look like in 30 years time, but there's a good chance that an urban district with a great quality of life will emerge there – just as it has at the Metalli site, which is now part of Zug city center. In addition to a sustainable development strategy for creating an outstanding urban development with high-quality buildings that are at the cutting edge in terms of energy use and impact on the environment, two things in particular are needed: time and the commitment of the developers, the public authorities and the people who live and work in the neighborhood.

Whether trains or buses linked to the city Network, good public transport links are vital for future mobility.

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