The 55 hectares of Neu-Oerlikon (previously "Zentrum Zürich Nord"), are being developed on one of the largest inner-urban brownfield sites in Switzerland, occupied by heavy industry until the 1980s.
It borders directly onto the existing centre of Zurich-Oerlikon and stretches north from Oerlikon station, an important transport hub in the greater Zurich area. The excellent public transport is one of the big advantages of the area, however the railtracks also separate Neu-Oerlikon from the existing settlement area. Once finished, Neu-Oerlikon will provide 5000 bed spaces and 12000 workspaces.
Currently roughly 3000 people are living in the new district, a new school has been built and the open spaces have been designed and developed with great care. Some of the industrial uses have been preserved and have contributed towards a wide mix of light industrial uses, service industries and housing. Different typologies and sizes of housing have attracted a diverse mix of households and age groups. The quality of the architecture and of the public realm is regarded as a key factor in the success of the development. The street pattern mirrors the size and layout of the former industrial structures on the site.
In spite of these achievements, Neu-Oerlikon is still criticised for not having developed into an independent, lively piece of town. However, it has to be taken into account, that Neu-Oerlikon has been built much quicker than planned initially. Once the remaining industrial sites have been developed this impression is very likely to change.