On October 3, 2019, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban is inaugurating one of the world’s largest wood building projects, the Swatch and Omega Campus in Biel, Switzerland. The opening of the Swatch and Omega Campus is a momentous occasion, marking the culmination of 8.5 years of design, engineering, and construction. At 46,778 sq m (503,514 sq ft), the project is Shigeru Ban Architects’ largest and most exuberant hybrid mass timber project to date, and one of the largest hybrid mass timber projects in the world. Beyond a celebratory ribbon cutting, this date marks a milestone in our global consciousness, answering the questions, “Why wood?” and “Why now?” Through his disaster relief work, Shigeru Ban has experienced firsthand the direct impact of climate change and natural disasters causing adverse effects on both people and the planet. Climate change is a reality that must be addressed both in how we live and how we build: our individual decisions to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions can change the world. However, building construction in its current state does not responsibly consider the future and well-being of our planet. To this end, Shigeru Ban Architects promotes building in wood as a model for environmental consciousness. Although timber is one of the oldest building materials, it is also one which holds much promise for the future.
园区 | The Campus
The Swatch and Omega Campus is a monumental timber building project, comprised of three buildings: 1) The Swatch Headquarters – Swatch’s multistory office space 2) The Omega Factory – the production center of Omega watches 3) Cité du Temps – the Swatch and Omega museum and conference hall The buildings share a design language, material palette, and environmental ethos, reflecting the unified brands of Swatch and Omega while expressing each building’s individuality through contrasting structural forms.
▼欧米茄生产中心，the production center of Omega watches
建筑物 | The Buildings
▼斯沃琪总部的网壳屋顶结构，the gridshell roof of the Swatch Headquarters
The Swatch Headquarters is playful, innovative, and provocative. Its gridshell roof structure consists of 7,700 unique timber pieces, designed by a specialized computer program to promote efficiency and minimize errors. All wood pieces were fabricated with a precision of 0.1 mm (0.003 in), allowing each piece to fit perfectly on site. In contrast, the Omega Factory is a strict, precise, and rigid rectilinear building. Its clean-room construction is unprecedented for a timber building. Cité du Temps, which is owned by the Swatch Group, unifies 18 unique subsidiary watch brands and acts as an interface between Swatch and Omega both figuratively and physically: the building intersects with the Swatch Headquarters’ canopy.
▼网壳屋顶结构由7700块独特的木片拼接而成，the gridshell roof structure consists of 7,700 unique timber pieces
从纸管到木材 | From Paper to Wood
▼总部入口大厅，the entrance hall
Shigeru Ban’s global humanitarian work began in 1994, when he applied his understanding of paper tubes as an ideal recyclable, lightweight, and inexpensive structural material to refugee housing in Rwanda. The following year, he established the Voluntary Architects Network, an NGO through which he has provided a wide array of relief projects for nearly 25 years, including housing, community centers, concert halls, and elementary schools. In each project, careful attention is paid to the lifecycle of both materials and resultant buildings. Shigeru has since turned to wood as a primary building material not only for its creative potential and material efficiency, but also for its qualities as a natural, renewable material which has the capacity to sequester carbon and help heal the planet. Over the past two decades, Shigeru has advanced the field of wood and mass timber design and construction. His early experiments with paper tube structures led to a series of innovative lightweight and efficient wood structure designs, including the Atsushi Imai Memorial Gymnasium (Akita, Japan, 2002) and Furniture Houses (1995-2006). These projects led to the development of much larger scale advanced wood and mass timber structures, beginning with the Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France, 2010). The recently completed Swatch and Omega Campus marks another milestone, demonstrating the scale and capacity of timber in environmentally-conscious building practices.
木结构的优势 | The Benefits of Building in Wood
▼身处在木构环境中的人显得更健康、更快乐、更富创造力，occupants are happier, healthier, and more productive in wood environments
The Swatch and Omega buildings demonstrate the numerous benefits of timber construction, for both humans and the planet: • Wood is one of the few completely renewable building materials, and perhaps the only viable renewable material available to comprise a large-scale building’s primary structure. • Well-managed forests and the production of new advanced timber construction materials create value in our natural resources and establish important relationships between urban and rural economies. • Timber construction can help significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint, with half of the emissions of concrete and one third the emissions of steel. When sustainably sourced, it has the capacity to sequester carbon, and bring us one step closer to the goal of making buildings carbon neutral, or even carbon negative. • Timber’s integrated design and delivery process facilitates coordination among architects, engineers, and construction teams, leading to reduced construction durations and costs, as well as clean and quiet construction sites. • In addition to the architectural merit of timber buildings, studies have shown that occupants are happier, healthier, and more productive in wood environments. Collectively, the three buildings were constructed from 4,600 m³ (160,000 ft³) of 100% Certified Swiss timber. Considering the growth rate of Swiss forests, it would only take 10 hours to regrow this quantity of wood domestically!
▼三座建筑总共由4,600m³瑞士木材建造而成，the three buildings were constructed from 4,600 m³ of 100% Certified Swiss timber
为了人类和地球的福祉 | Well-being – for People and the Planet
In addition to the ecological benefits of wood, the Swatch and Omega Campus has numerous other environmentally-conscious strategies. To achieve low energy consumption and a better working environment, state-of-the-art technologies such as radiative cooling and heating with activated ceiling panels are employed, as well as water pipes cast into concrete slabs, which allows for draft-free air conditioning. Ground water is used as a heat source in order to achieve a significant reduction of both heating and cooling power. The roofs of all three buildings are equipped with photovoltaic panels. Each technological strategy introduced into the project is intended to reduce the building’s impact on the planet, and serve as a benchmark for all buildings in the future. Beyond the aforementioned technical features, the three buildings are designed for employee comfort, promoting both well-being and productivity. Wood environments are known to contribute to greater occupant happiness. Whereas most clean rooms have a sterile aesthetic, the Omega Factory incorporates the warmth of timber. Its break rooms are equipped with full-height glass shutters, creating an indooroutdoor space. The Swatch Headquarters is vast and open, with three-dimensional physical and visual continuity throughout the building, promoting a feeling of openness and solidarity while improving communication. Thanks to its carefully tuned acoustic design, workspaces maintain comfortable noise levels even with a full office.
面向未来的建造 | Building for the Future
Shigeru Ban Architects has been designing and building in wood for over 25 years, and continues to advocate for a sustainable approach to building. The firm’s current work includes timber cultural, arts, commercial, and residential projects, each with the capacity to change the way we think about building. The design and construction of the Swatch and Omega Campus carefully considers the needs of both the building inhabitants and the planet, resulting in a unique set of buildings that reflects the values of Swatch and Omega, as well as Shigeru Ban Architects.