Lineaar – Living above the train, Aarau (CH)

HHybrid mixture next to the Aarau railway station: The loosened block perimeter structure houses a railway depot, a retail and restaurant area with up to four residential floors located above, shielded from traffic noise through arcades. The composition of the facades in flowing horizontal stripes gives the unit a homogeneous character, in spite of the varied mixed-use concept.

Island between Rail and Road

The project emerged at the end of 2004 from a study commissioned from three architects’ offices. For the jury, the main argument for a block perimeter development, a novelty for Aarau, was the noise-protected inner courtyard. This enhances the island-like property, surrounded by two busy streets and the railway area. Even though the courtyard primarily benefits the residents and users of the building, it also has quality as a public space.

Client: ASGA Pensionskasse
Location: CH-5000 Aarau, Hintere Bahnhofstrasse 79
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller | Stäheli
Project management: Susanne Gaudl
Competition: 2004
Construction: 2008-2010
Area: 8,240 m²
Capacity: 48 apartments, offices, retail space and railway depot for 6 trains

general contractor: Rhomberg, St. Gallen / statics: Bayeler, Bern / building physics: Siag, St. Gallen / geo technics: Ziegler, Zürich / landscape: Balliana Schubert, Zürich

general contractor: Rhomberg, St. Gallen

Photos: © Bruno Klomfar

Loosened Ring on common Base


The complex was built in a residential and business district, rising from a common base above the new Wynental-Sunental railway station. The loosened ring shape reacts nuanced to the various requirements of the usage program.

The depot occupies the longest of the three building legs along the railway grounds. The four floors of offices and residences above the depot are protected towards the north by arcades that shut off the railway and road circulation noise.

A second block bends in an obtuse angle; a third, bent structure, bordered by a narrow street, closes the resulting central court. The apartments towards the south open to the interior court with large loggias. On the street side, the ground floor shops and restaurants create an interesting public area.


In their open space concept, the Zurich landscape architects Balliana Schubert put their focus on exactly this overlap of private and public usage. They set softly contoured, raised islands on the hard surface of the courtyard, which are planted with trees and form protected areas for the adjacent ground floor areas. The design of the inner courtyard continues up to the edge of the property, creating a generous and coherent exterior space.

Unifying Design

The surrounding parapet strips of light-colored fiber-reinforced concrete panels unite the mix of uses. This urban large-scale project holds ground in its heterogeneous surroundings and grants users and residents a concise location along this important access road to the city center.