Pleasure Factory

For much of the 1990s, the former industrial area of Zurich-West was deserted, the factories that once produced turbines and steamboats standing eerily silent. Then, in 2000, Schiffbau—a 19th century shipbuilding plant—was gutted to make way for a restaurant, jazz club and cluster of theaters. Today, nearly all of the area's brick-clad buildings have been repurposed as bars, shops and galleries, flanked by chic loft apartments. It's a transformation that's helping to turn Switzerland's largest city from a buttoned-up financial capital into something approaching a fashionable metropolis.

In the past few years, Schiffbau has seen the addition of...

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