Shigeru Ban Completes New Swatch HQ

John Hill
10. octobre 2019
Photo © Swatch

An opening ceremony recently took place in Biel, Switzerland, for two new buildings Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designed for Swatch and Omega. Swatch Headquarters, with its snaking form and timber roof, grabs all the attention.

Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) won the design competition for the Swatch Group's headquarters in 2011, and after nearly five years of construction the building was inaugurated on October 3, 2019. L-shaped in plan, the snaking headquarters building is 240 meters long, 35 meters wide, and reaches up to 27 meters tall, where it meets the new Cité du Temps building.

Photo © Swatch

The vaulted roof of the headquarters has an area of over 11,000 m2 and is structured as a timber grid shell with approximately 4,600 beams. Fitted between the beams are approximately 2,800 opaque, translucent, and transparent elements that vary depending on the interior needs and provide a weather-tight layer for the building.

Photo © Swatch

According to SBA, wood was used for two reasons: "From the construction point of view, it is the best structural material because of its high precision which allows extremely quick and quiet erection process, and above all, wood is the only renewable structural material. From a contextual point of view, wood was also the only choice because Biel/Bienne is known for its timber engineering school which leads the timber technology of Switzerland." Actually, the structural prototype for the nearly ten-year-old Centre Pompidou Metz was done in the Swiss town.

Photo © Swatch

The headquarters building has 25,000 square meter spread across five floors. Given the shape of the roof, the floor plates naturally get smaller as the floor number increases. Nine balconies project through the building's outer skin, and a bridge links the headquarters to Cité du Temps across Nicolas G. Hayek Strasse.

Photo © Swatch
Photo © Swatch

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