Pritzer Prize-winner Shigeru Ban has made a career out of pushing the limits of timber construction. This week, the Japanese architect celebrated the completion of one of the largest hybrid mass timber structures in the world. The 500,000-square-foot Swatch and Omega Campus in Biel, Switzerland took 8.5 years to build and is composed of three new buildings by Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA): The Swatch Headquarters, the Omega Factory, and the Cité du Temps, a flexible space serving as a conference hall and museum for both of the Swatch/Omega companies. While the buildings share commonalities in their function and composition, each carries its own distinct qualities. The Swatch Headquarters has a light and airy quality, with an arched, coffered canopy made of 7,700 individual pieces of engineered timber. Meanwhile, the Omega Factory presents itself as a more rectilinear, fixed structure, with exposed timber elements blending among paneled glass walls. The result is a clean, sharp aesthetic that highlights the duality of the building. The Cité du Temps acts as a crossroads for the watch manufacturing company, which operates 18 subsidiary brands, in its function as a space for meetings and exhibitions. To demonstrate this point, SBA designed the third building to intersect with the canopy of the Swatch Headquarters—here, the building becomes both a symbolic and physical link between the subsidiaries of the Swatch Group. SBA has always advocated for the use of wood in architectural design, arguing that it is one of the only truly renewable resources in construction. In addition, timber construction reduces the carbon footprint of buildings, cuts down the cost and duration of construction, and could even make tenants feel happier and healthier. In its tactical use of timber, SBA has long led the charge in sustainable design practices, tracing back to Shigeru Ban’s experiences with disaster relief efforts. A ribbon-cutting ceremony in Biel celebrated SBA’s remarkable achievement on October 3.
Posts tagged with "Switzerland":
Known for its refined, seemingly effortless approach to luxury projects mounted across the globe, Los Angeles and Lausanne-based Montalba Architects has just completed the Zen Pod, as a new addition to the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel geodesic-dome cluster. Perched on the Dents-du-Midi mountain range, just above the Rhône Valley and south of Lake Geneva, this Swiss Alps lodging complex adheres to a strict ecological standard while still providing its clientele with top amenities. At 650 to 1250 Swiss Francs ($670 to $1287) per night, this hotel gives new meaning to the concept of glamping. While other pods on the property are outfitted based on Forest, Swiss, Deluxe, Family, Cozy, and 007 themes, Montalba's contribution presents a distinctly Japanese influence. Set on level deck platforms along the mountainside, the tent-like dome includes a view-facing bedroom, bathroom, and closet space. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
For the Origen Festival in Riom, Switzerland students in the Masters of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication program at ETH Zurich, guided by researcher Ana Anton, 3D printed nine unique, computationally-designed columns with a new layered extrusion printing process developed at the university over the past year and a half. ETH students and researchers created nine unique, 9-foot-tall concrete columns that came together as an installation titled Concrete Choreography. The arrangement of undulating columns served as an environment for dance performances. “The columns create the stage and set for the artists to dance in between, in front, around, to hide, climb and interact in many ways with this unique, monolithic architecture,” explained Anton. “Each column has its own particular expressivity and dynamics, just like the dancers.” The students used an automated, formwork-less process, called Concrete Extrusion 3D Printing (CE3DP), a printing method that continuously deposits and extrudes concrete in .2-inch-thick layers to create complex geometries. Anton has been experimenting with the process for a year and a half, as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between ETH's Digital Building Technologies and the chair of Physical Chemistry of Building Materials. Anton says that for the column’s nine unique forms, “students worked towards finding unique designs suitable to this fabrication method, meaning more fluid geometries locally detailed using material-driven ornament,” going on to say that the geometries they worked with are only possible because of the high-resolution printing of CE3DP. ETH’s Digital Building Technologies lab claims this method comes “with the advantage of precise, digitized shape customization [that is] ideal for the creation of freeform shapes that would be impossible to produce with any other technology on the market.” CE3DP also has the added advantage of being fast; the columns each took just 1.5-to–2.5 hours to create. According to Anton, “The forest of columns should work both as performance space but also as an outdoor installation which invites visitors to explore the garden before and after the dance.”
Brought to you with support fromPositioned adjacent to Lake Geneva and the Parc Louis Borget, the Olympic House is located on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland. Opened in June 2019, the objective of the building's scheme was to bring the International Olympic Committee's hundreds of employees, spread across the city, under one roof. The project—which began as a competition in 2012—was led by the Danish architectural practice 3XN in collaboration with Swiss firm Itten+Brechbühl. For the facade of the new headquarters, the design team developed an undulating double-skin glass facade crafted with a custom-parametric script that produced thousands of models and drawings.
Olympic House, 3XN relied on a minimal data model defined by five parametric curves per elevation. A separate drawing was developed for each component of the facade assembly, culminating in approximately 33,500 individual drawings. The original design concept developed by 3XN called for the interior and outer skins to mirror each other, with both being comprised of distorted, diamond-shaped panels. Following consultation with facade manufacturer and installer Frener & Reifer, it was determined that such a layout could prove cost-prohibitive. Instead, the original complexity of the outer facade was maintained, while that of the interior was simplified to a more standard curtain wall format. Although the simplification of the double-skin enclosure reduced the cost and construction time of the project—construction began on May 2016 and the building was air- and- watertight by 2018—the assembly of the facade remained remarkably complex. "Every element in the facade, except the nuts and bolts holding it together, is unique," said the design team. "Each glass panel, each load-bearing column, is unique in its shape and in its relations to neighboring elements." There are 194 glass panels per floor for both the inner and outer facade. The inner facade is held at the top and bottom at each floor plate with base profiles and has a surface area of just under 25,000 square feet. Girder arms extend from the concrete roof slab, which in turn support the 388 aluminum-clad steel fins that line each elevation. According to Frener Reifer, "this made it possible to hang the fins from top to bottom and to transfer the load of the upper two floors to the roof." Additionally, the exact height of the fins could be altered on-site through the use of adjustable screws. To shade the broadly illuminated office space, the design team placed three-inch-thick aluminum Venetian blinds between the interior and exterior facades. Additionally, a catwalk is accessible from 24 points within the building between the two curtain walls, facilitating a straightforward maintenance program.The building rises to a height of four stories and encompasses nearly 240,000 square feet, with the lowest floor burrowed into the landscaping. According to the design team, the primary stylistic influence for the enclosure was the form of the athlete—each perspective provides a different viewpoint of the building, as if it were in movement. To develop the form of the
To even the most casual observer, Le Corbusier has become a household name. His lifetime achievements in brutalist architecture, city planning, and pilotis represent his tireless search for modernism, and now, more than a half-century after his death, the Swiss architect’s legacy is being reconsidered with the public reopening of his final work, the Centre Le Corbusier, in Zurich. Originally named the Heidi Weber Museum, or “La Maison de l’Homme,” Le Corbusier designed the museum for his friend and patron Heidi Weber. A tireless devotee to the architect and his other forays into art, Weber envisioned displaying her large collection of Corbusier-designed objects in this purpose-built building. It is the only museum exclusively dedicated to an architect as a visual artist and includes his paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestries, and collages, among other media. The museum recognizes the building itself as central to the collection and narrative as well, as many of Corbusier's artistic ideas are manifest in his final body of work—despite being one of his only buildings composed almost entirely of glass and steel. The building aligns with many modernist ideals and aesthetics. The structure was prefabricated, with the steel parts cast in foundries off-site and installed in the largest pieces possible. The primary color scheme is a nod to the De Stijl, a popular Dutch movement focusing on color founded after World War I. Corbusier also manages to integrate his signature concrete elements in the highly stylized inner staircase and in the fabrication of an external ramp. The concrete is raw and textured, and the lines of the formwork are visible for posterity. Warm wooden elements on walls and on the stairs add a soft contrast between the natural and manufactured materials of the building, as seen in his famous works at Ronchamp and the Maisons Jaoul. Le Corbusier died the same year he completed the design for the museum, however. The building was completed two years later in 1967, but only after the chaos of the unexpected death and the assemblage of a new construction team. The building faced further complications after its final opening, as its sole proprietor, Heidi Weber, struggled to maintain the museum both physically as well as programmatically, with the building often only sporadically open as Weber juggled logistics and operating costs. In 2014 Weber’s 50-year operating term came to a close, and the city of Zurich began its search for a replacement that would celebrate Le Corbusier’s legacy and final work in the way the architect envisioned. The Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, a specialist institution for art and communication, was selected in 2019 and both city and museum agreed to invest in inside-out renovations. Local architects Silvio Schmed and Arthur Rüegg were selected to head up the project, and the pair collaborated on the restoration process while adhering to preservationist principles. The opening exhibition, Mon univers, runs through November 17 and achieves the exhibition vision of the famous Swiss architect and his patron—an impressive and comprehensive collection of Corbusier’s art and objects acquired on world travels, coupled with both a photographic exhibition highlighting the architect himself by René Burri.
While solar panels have become increasingly common, the ones usually found on rooftops and the like can convert at most between 17 and 19 percent of received solar energy to usable electricity. This average yield has plateaued, increasingly only about 3.5 percent since the 2000s. More efficient panels are available, like those used on satellites, but they remain cost prohibitive. Insolight, a Swiss startup from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), claims to have developed a scalable alternative, however. The company's new technology uses the same high-efficiency cells found in orbiting satellites but assembled in such a way that minimizes cost differences. Insolight's Mathieu Ackermann, Laurent Coulot, and Florian Gerlich have constructed arrays of very small versions of these high-efficiency cells, mounted with an optical magnifier that concentrates sunlight around 100 times, resulting in cells that take up less than .5 percent of the panel’s surface area but harvest a much larger percentage of the light hitting the panel. Most concentrator-operated solar systems require constant maneuvering to be tilted towards the sun. In order to maximize efficiency without requiring new mounting technology or complicated tilting mechanics, each of the cells is detailed so that it can make tiny, millimeter-level movements to position itself to track the sun without all the cost, space, and reliability issues found in many already available concentrator systems. Insolight's “microtracking” can reportedly capture 100 percent of the light that hits it, regardless of its angle of incidence. The ultra-thin panels can be mounted similarly to any traditional photovoltaic cell, even in a hybrid array layered with standard panels, which is especially useful for cloudy days. The panels spent a year on the roofs of an EPFL pilot site and worked “without a hitch,” according to the trio. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, Insolight projects that the panels could cut electricity bills by as much as 30 percent, as well as provide a greater return on investment than other commercially-available solar options. The company hopes to bring its first products to the market in 2022. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
A seemingly simple, six-story apartment complex is going up in Zurich, Switzerland, and is putting to the test a number of new technologies that showcase a more sustainable approach to new construction. The project, Hohlstrasse 100, is designed by Dietrich Schwarz Architekten and is rising next to an existing, two-story commercial space that's also being renovated and connected to the new building underground. The firm's namesake principal has written extensively on environmental concerns in architecture and advocates a view of architectural history “from modernism to the ‘one planet society,’” which has manifested itself in projects like the 1996 Solarhaus I and the 2007 Eulachhof "zero-energy" housing complex. Claiming that “architectural and spatial planning” is the cause of greater than 40 percent of global energy consumption, Schwarz has proposed that future structures "will be created in which the building envelope and building service systems complement one another optimally." That ethos is being advanced in Hohlstrasse 100, which is, in part, supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. Loaded with new technology, the residences will be a pilot for a new form of vacuum-insulated glass windows, hot water, and other monitoring systems, as well as new phase-change materials. The windows will also feature unique soundproofing, tested at Empa at ETH Zurich, that will allow them to be opened to the noisy street below for natural ventilation. Hohlstrasse 100 is also testing ground for aerogel insulating technologies, designed in the lab of Jannis Wernery at Empa. While aerogels have been used in many renovations, and also recently at the research-showhome DFAB HOUSE, Wernery says this is first new construction in Switzerland to create a facade entirely using aerogel. The material, an ultralight gel that uses gas instead of a liquid, has incredibly low density and thermal conductivity. Overall, the building is extremely high-efficiency in terms of insulation abilities for its size. The ultra-thin wood, MDF, and aerogel facade make it a primarily a wood structure coming in at just 135mm. Although aerogel is costly, in expensive cities like Zurich the gain in interior square footage (and its attendant profitability) more than compensates for the additional price while providing long-term energy efficiency, according to Wernery. For the architects, this thinness and space efficiency is also part of the building's conceptual conceit. It reads with the “compression” that so distinctly defines modern urban buildings and cities themselves.
Brought to you with support fromBehnisch Architekten's AGORA Pôle de Recherche Sur le Cancer in Lausanne, Switzerland, overlooks the historic core of the centuries-old city from a prominent ridgeline within the city center, contorting itself into multiple planes of curtain wall shaded by a continuous band of aluminum apertures. As an approximately 240,000-square-foot cancer research institute, the complex's program calls for easily navigable and well-illuminated corridors linking offices and research spaces for hundreds of practitioners. Additionally, the central meeting place of the facility—dubbed "AGORA" in homage to the ancient Greek sphere of public assembly—is topped with a semi-translucent ETFE canopy. "AGORA was our first effort at developing a stationary, responsive solar shading system, which developed out of the original competition design," said Behnisch Partner Robert Matthew Noblett. "The concept is essentially moving the sophisticated technology involved in responding to solar angles that change throughout the day and year and deploying it on the design side in the form of parametric modeling and fabrication, optimizing shading elements according to orientation and season."
Facades+ New York conference, a two-day event at the beginning of April focused on the design and performance of facades.The second skin of the building consists of a continuous aluminum screen that runs across the underlying glazed facade. Each of the facade's nine distinct planes is shaded with a unique variation of the screen; the skin on the north has relatively large openings while that on the south is more constrained. The panels consist of two folded aluminum pieces joined together to resist bending. For the shading requirements of the building, Behnisch Architekten developed a set of parametric guidelines for Rhino, Grasshopper, and AutoCAD. The length of the "P" line, the protruding-perforated aluminum flap, was determined by the "V" plane perpendicular to the facade, and the "H" plane parallel to the facade. After producing scores of digital simulations for sun and heat protection, light enhancement and glare, the design team built multiple physical models that were tested under artificial lighting. "The optimization of the facade is controlled both by the aperture and its orientation, which respond to the orientation of the glass surface and its type of glass," said the design team. "The same solar performance can be achieved for every given angle of the sun with an array of different geometries that offer all the different view openings and qualities." The second skin is located approximately 2.6 feet from the inner facade, allowing for the insertion of a maintenance catwalk and over half-a-foot of space for the secondary structure supporting the shading panels. The secondary structure is composed of a series of diagonal steel rails running parallel to each other. Every short end of the panels are connected to the steel rails via simple fastener connections. Armatures extending from the inner facade support both the catwalk and the steel rail system. According to the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was the connection of the bands of aluminum apertures across nine unique facade planes. To maintain the visual continuity of the second skin, Behnisch Architekten collaborated with manufacturer and installer Sottas SA to produce a unique seam of aluminum pieces for each corner. In the coming years, Behnisch will monitor the performance of the complex's enclosure system. Lessons learned from the study of the structure will inform the design of similar systems for ongoing projects such as Harvard's School of Engineering an Applied Sciences and the ARENA HQ in Germany. Robert Matthew Noblett will be joining a panel, "Facade Syntax: Changing Context and International Regulations," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming
Tucked at the base of the Jura Mountains in Switzerland lies the Jan Michalski Foundation, a place where international writers can complete their residencies with sweeping views of the Alps. Residents are invited to live out their visits, which can last anywhere from two weeks to six months, underneath a concrete canopy, where nine “treehouses” are suspended around the Foundation’s central buildings. That includes the recently completed “Suspended Forest” by Kengo Kuma, a polygonal hanging family house that focuses on timber both inside and out. The programming is linear and continuous, and Kengo Kuma & Associates describes the design philosophy behind the building as cocoon-like and enveloping. Residents can walk straight from the main entrance through the living area and out onto the floating balcony. That linearity necessitated the triangulated steel exterior that gives Suspended Forest its distinctive shape, and gives the cabin extra strength and rigidity. For waterproofing and soundproofing, the exterior of the house was clad in white steel plates, which were then topped with untreated timber shingles. As the shingles are exposed to the elements, they will change color to create nuance along the facade. Every shingle was hand-cut from local wood, with smaller oak and larger larch shingles arranged in a random pattern to make the facade seem more organic and dynamic. A series of non-aligned windows seem to “float” between the shingles evoking glimpses of shapes caught through a forest. Inside, larch plywood panels were used to wrap the walls and floor to create a space that is the “inverse” of the cabin’s exterior. While the shingles follow the structure’s form, the plywood instead expands in relation to the program. Skylights have also been punched in the cabin’s roof to lighten up the live-work area within. Kuma’s addition to the hanging “campus” marks a departure from the previously-built cabins that adhered to boxier, multi-story forms and curated midcentury modern-style interiors. A heavy use of timber and expansive views of the natural landscape are prevalent throughout each cabin. Kuma isn’t the only big name to build for the Jan Michalski Foundation. Pritzker Prize–winner Alejandro Aravena was responsible for the Elemental treehouse, a glass cube that floats atop a hanging concrete slab. Rather than being a workspace for residents, the Elemental treehouse is a cabin where writers and Foundation staff can cook and share meals. Granite floors, a common kitchen, dining table, and a living room area lend the cabin a more communal feel. Six of the resident cabins look out over Lake Geneva, while a seventh, a simple white cabin designed by the Swiss studio Décosterd, faces the Jura mountains. The Décosterd treehouse is clad in white, perforated steel panels that spell out in Morse code: “In addition to simplicity, nudity,” a Henry David Thoreau quote from Walden or, Life in the Woods. The Elemental cabin was the eighth treehouse in the complex, and now that Suspended Forest is complete, the total is up to nine. That isn’t the end of the Foundation’s expansion plans, as the group has mapped out multi-year expansion goals that include multiple new cabins.
Deep in the Swiss Alps, buried below the remnants of a 12th-century monastery in the town of Susch, is Switzerland’s newest private art museum. Muzeum Susch opened to the public on January 2 and is expected to bring international attention to a village where the population tops out at 200. The museum, designed by the Zurich-based Voellmy Schmidlin Architektur (founded by Chasper Schmidlin and Lukas Voellmy), is the personal project of Grażyna Kulczyk, Poland’s richest woman; she’s the founder of the museum, has fully funded its construction, and the institution will display pieces from Kulczyk’s private collection. This isn’t the first time Kulczyk has attempted to get her museum off (and under) the ground. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Kulczyk had attempted to bring a Tadao Ando–designed collection to Poznan, Poland, in 2008, and later to Warsaw. Both attempts fell through. The completed complex in Susch spans a collection of five existing buildings, most historically protected, which restricted how thoroughly their exteriors could be modified. As such, the two central buildings are connected via an underground passage that took over a year to dig through the mountainous terrain. Muzeum Susch holds over 16,000 square feet of gallery space for rotating and permanent exhibitions, as well as Instituto Susch, an academic institute that will host lectures on gender and art. Acziun Susch, also located on the campus, will instruct on modern choreography. The area’s natural rock formations have been highlighted as heavily as the existing architecture and poke through the staid gallery interiors throughout. A grotto near the museum’s entrance has been left exposed and will serve as a backdrop for future site-specific installations. Kulczyk's ambitions for the museum aren't finished, as she recently announced the purchase of a sixth building for the institution. The museum’s inaugural show, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, has a pointed focus on the work of women artists internationally. The exhibition, curated by Kasia Redzisz, will feature work of many types, from paintings to sculpture to multidisciplinary art and will run through June 30, 2019.
In October 2018, Switzerland-based 3-D-graphics software company Imverse released a public beta version of its LiveMaker modeling tool. This powerful virtual reality interface allows for the transformation of 2-D inputs into immersive 3-D environments. While the use of VR in the field of architecture and design is by no means novel, it has primarily remained a tool for the final visualization of a project. LiveMaker not only allows the user to navigate and interact with spaces and objects within a rendered 3-D environment, but also facilitates the real-time manipulation of details such as geometry, color, and placement. Within the digitally rendered environment, specific details imported from 2-D images are easily replicated and moved about the space. The foundation of Imverse’s ability to create this malleable VR interface is its proprietary voxel-based gaming engine. According to Benoît Perrin, head of marketing and communications, “most 3-D graphics today are based on polygons that complicate what should be the seamless creation of content, LiveMaker is the first application of a voxel engine as a 3-D modeling tool.” One of the more impressive tools stemming from the use of a voxel engine is the dynamic shading and lighting characteristics applied to objects–the shadow cast by a column at any time of day is immediately available. How is the application most useful for architects and designers? The platform presents a number of positive implications for firms involved in historic restorations or reconfigurations of protected sites. For example, with 360-degree imaging of Austria’s Hellbrunn Palace, a user can interact with walls, columns, and other elements. If the user comes across a specific detail or object of interest, they can be copied and exported as 3-D models across different rendering platforms. Going forward, features within LiveMaker will be upgraded and expanded by Imverse following feedback from users of the public beta release.
A research team led by Jamin Dillenburger, an assistant professor at ETH Zurich, has recently produced and installed a concrete ceiling shaped by 3D-printed sand formwork. Dubbed the “Smart Slab,” the 1000 square-foot ceiling is significantly lighter and thinner than comparable concrete ceilings. The concrete slab is a component of ETH Zurich’s ongoing DFAB House project. The DFAB House is a load-bearing timber module prefabricated by robots. According to ETH Zurich, Dillenburger’s research group “developed a new software to fabricate the formwork elements, which is able to record and coordinate all parameters relevant to production.” In effect, the design of the ceiling is the product of the team-created software rather than analog design or planning. Following the design and digital testing phase of structural elements, the fabrication data was exported for the creation of 11 pallet-sized, 3D-printed sand formworks. After fabrication, each segment was cleared of sand particles and prepared for concrete spraying. The spray consisted of several layers of glass-fiber reinforced concrete. At its thinnest point, the concrete shell is less than one inch thick. After hardening for two weeks, the 11 concrete segments were joined to create the approximately 15-ton floor plate. While the underbelly’s contours were formed by 3D-printed sand casts, the ribbed grid above was shaped by CNC laser-cut timber formwork. The load-bearing ribs, resulting from timber formwork, were outfitted with a series of tubes for the insertion of steel cables both horizontally and vertically. These post-tensioned ribs carry the principal load of the “Smart Slab.” In placing the principal load above the concrete shell, the research team was able to insert complex geometric features below. The “Smart Slab” is not ETH Zurich’s first execution of an ultrathin concrete unit. Earlier this year, the university fabricated an undulating, two-inch thick roofing unit for a new live-work space in Zurich.