Swiss College of Timber Management

Pilot project for the use of the building material timber in large dimensions

Copyrights: archINFORM

address of building



Bau-, Verkehrs- und Energiedirektion des Kantons Bern (Department for Construction,
Transport and Energy of the Canton Bern)


Marcel Meili, Markus Peter Architekten mit Zeno Vogel, Zürich/CH

Structural design

Conzett Bronzini Gartmann AG, Chur



The new, four-storey teaching building created by the architects as part of the expansion of the Biel college represents the oppositeapproach to the existing low school buildings with factory halls and storage sheds. It also contributes to the compactness of the ensemble. This wooden building, which is ninety-four metres long and seventeen metres high, is a striking structure that stands out from its surroundings. The classrooms are arranged around an internal access zone, which is constructed from steel-reinforced concrete to provide fire protection. They are self-supporting ‘woodenboxes’ made from prefabricated, storey-height wall elements. Light reliably reaches as far as the access zone through loggias inserted between the functional spaces. The projections of the roof over the recessed attic storey on both sides of the building are supported by massive box girders. These protect the superimposed wooden facade from weathering. The rigid division of the facade matches the load-bearing wall element construction. A parapet-height laminated timber girder functions as a suspender beam, with the storey ceiling below suspended from it. This allowed large window elements without lintels to be installed, which provide ideal lighting for the schoolrooms. Prefabricated frame elements with untreated oak plank infill were used for the facade cladding, with the divisions of their carefully positioned joints contributing to the appearance of the wall surfaces. The inner walls are frame constructions and the storey ceilings are made of box girder elementswith the undersides left visible. In the inner space, this continuousceiling surface resting on supports breaks up and becomesa ribbed ceiling, which has good acoustic properties. The construction principles of this project overturn the usual hierarchyof proportions and divisions in wood construction, making a three-dimensional idea tangible for the first time. For its use of wood as a building material, with its carefully thought-out details, the project was awarded the Prix Lignum 1999.Swiss College of Timber Management, BielProject Swiss

Category: Bildung, Familiar Material