BERN.- Westside Shopping and Leisure Centre, an exciting new development designed by famed architect Daniel Libeskind, opens its doors to the public on Wednesday, October 8. What many years ago seemed a visionary, perhaps even utopian, concept for a new city district of Bern has finally become a reality. In addition to the 55 shops, 10 restaurants and bars, hotel, multiplex cinema, fun bath with wellness and fitness center and senior residency, this mixed-use program radically reinvents the concept of shopping, entertainment and living. With its impressive location above the A1 highway, its direct connection to the tram and the BERNMOBIL transport network, Westside is a meeting place for the whole greater region of Bern and provides a striking gateway to the city.
Westside is one of a kind - a complex mixture of retail, residential, and recreational facilities - an urban marketplace full of experiences that attracts visitors of all ages, interests and backgrounds. Born from the mind of architect Daniel Libeskind, Westside brings a new concept of living to Bern and a powerful architectural style to a culturally booming city. Its innovative, inspiring structure sets the standard for the attractive, varied range of experiences to be found at Westside. The center attracts not only the visitors who want to enjoy the countless amenities available at Westside, but also those who appreciate architecture; at Westside, they get both on a grand scale.
The concept of Westside was to create a public space with day and night facilities, a self-enclosed district offering endless amenities and services, almost like a city within a city. Westside is not only a landmark, but an urban organism which attracts the surrounding region, a place of excursions, meetings and seminars, and leisurely activities. This mixed-use complex has all the conveniences and services of an independent town, yet at the same time is integrated into the city of Bern due to its location and convenient access to all modes of public transportation. The several layer wooden facade adds to this incorporation of the city and forms a connection between Bern and the surrounding countryside to the west.
Bern-Brunnen is the setting for the Westside complex, a new residential area with approximately 800 new apartments, which will house at least 2,700 people. Westside brings in its own share of tenants as well in the new residence for the elderly called SeneCasita Westside, offering 95 apartments of its own. One of the key features of Brunnen is the traffic planning and promotion of public transport in the area. Brunnen's new tram station is the hub linking a cluster of local routes to the urban and regional transport network. An attractive network of pedestrian and cycle routes creates easier access for non-motorized travelers while the Bern-Brunnen junction on the motorway provides drivers with direct access to the Westside Shopping and Leisure Centre without imposing extra traffic on the surrounding residential areas.
Due to the unique integration of architecture on a large, urban scale, Westside provides different types of outdoor areas such as the city plaza, the landscape and the gateway to the city. Extensive window cuts in varying designs open up the facade, creating either a panoramic window view for the wellness area or a web of natural light for the circulation area. The views from inside the building allow you to see the highway, gateway to the living area, the railway tracks and the widespread landscape to the south. During the day, these partly dark-tinted window openings, called cuts, contrast with the light wood facade. At night they appear as illuminated diagonal lines floating beneath the night sky.
"Architecture is no longer considered a footnote, but is a fundamental means of engaging and extending the experience of the visitor toward new dynamic leisure horizons," said architect Daniel Libeskind. "The sustainability and long range success of a new facility depends upon the creation of public spaces which in their functionality and architectural character provide a new identity by fusing together the dimensions of commerce, culture and leisure."
Some 3.5 million visitors are expected to come to Westside each year, to profit from its broad choice of shops, bars and restaurants, and from its leisure and entertainment facilities. The following businesses opened their doors in Westside on October 8, 2008: Migros, Globus, Orell Fussli, Strellson, PKZ/Boss, Douglas, Koch Optik, Game Stop, Marc O'Polo, Humanic, Fossil, Choice Accessoires, Palmers, L'Occitane en Provence and many others - including a number of brands with their first outlet in the Berne region or even anywhere at all in Switzerland.