In earlier fairy tales, old poor men transformed into young princes. It is similar when an area is transformed. Gradually, the industrial gray disappears and a diverse, vibrant living space emerges. At the moment, we can only guess what the Wydeneck site in Dornach will look like in about 20 years. The area on the Birs River is still dominated by industry, but the transformation process has already begun and businesses, studios and a cultural venue have taken up residence. Children romp around on the newly created playground. "The area has the potential to combine everything: Living, working and leisure. Our vision is a neighborhood of short distances," says Michele Muccioli, Head of Development and Realization at HIAG. The project could decisively enhance the community of Dornach and offers added value potential for the entire region.
Developing for the future
Site development is part of HIAG's core business. Ultimately, it is a kind of precision craft, says Muccioli: "Every project is a prototype with special challenges and a specific starting point. There is no universal recipe that can be applied." As a rule, HIAG takes over sites that are at the end of their life cycle: These are often industrial sites that no longer have a future in their previous form. The site in Dornach acquired in 2015 was home to Schwei- zerische Metallwerke AG Dornach, which had been producing metal tools since 1895. The factory was taken over a few years ago; the decision that this site would be abandoned for industrial use had already been made at that time by both the authorities and the industrial company at the time. Production is to continue here until the end of 2024, after which heavy industry will become a thing of the past. "We are considered specialists when it comes to developing industrial sites of a certain size and complexity," says Muccioli. Therefore, it is not uncommon to be contacted by companies that want to cede a site. HIAG assumes full responsibility: In most cases, it remains the owner of the land and the buildings. HIAG rents them out and in many cases also takes over the management. In this way, the company has a strong presence throughout the entire development process. Or as Michele Muccioli says, "We come to stay." When HIAG develops a site, it's not short-term profit that counts, but long-term added value. "In developments, we always look for the best long-term use. These are usually not mono-uses, but multi-uses. The healthy mix of living and working helps create vibrant and inspiring places with unique charm."
A new vision is emerging
Finding the future mix of uses is a lengthy process. HIAG develops a hypothesis for each new site, derived from the historic use, the short- to long-term site qualities and the existing conditions. This gives rise to many questions. What does it mean for the community if hundreds of new apartments or thousands of square meters of commercial space are built? How will traffic develop? What infrastructure will be needed in the future? Often, a competition is then held with external architectural firms or urban planners who develop independent concepts for the site. With the evaluation and sounding out of the winning project, a vision supported by all parties is finally created in consultation with the municipal and cantonal authorities.