While most of its eurozone neighbors were whacked by financial crises, Switzerland managed to avoid a recession, and its economy grew by 1 percent in 2012. This relative robustness is evident in Zurich, where no vista seems clear of construction cranes. In the last several years the gritty, industrial west side of the city, across the Limmat River, has experienced the beginnings of a transformation into a residential and business district. The Zurich firm EM2N turned an old viaduct into a High Line'esque walking path, filling its arches with pricey stores and a food market. A glass mixed-use tower by Gigon / Guyer'the tallest in Zurich'was completed in 2011, and its 35th-floor bar overlooks a tapestry of train tracks.
Building is also booming in the already densely packed suburban hills on either side of Lake Zurich, where one of architect Gus W'stemann's newest houses almost disappears among traditional Swiss structures and slapdash condominiums. The lake's south-facing bank, called Erlenbach, remains a desired place to live for its views of the water and the Alps beyond. W'stemann's clients, a South African family with two young children, approached the Zurich-born architect to help them make the best use of their sloping site. He conceived two rectangular volumes'one for the house at the top of the hill; the second, a pool pavilion at the bottom. An exterior stair connects the two.