3rd Prize
Year 2016

Construction of new workshop by the Civil Engineering Office of the town of Berne (TAB), Forsthaus Bern

Explanatory report

Guiding principle and urban planning concept

The new urban building block is a hybrid. It houses a workshop and offices, and makes a striking impression as you enter Berne. The project complements the development at Bremgartenwald and represents the prelude to the urban cityscape. The workshop with offices terminates the forest scenery and offers an urban face to both roads. The plastic spatial composition takes as its reference the sculptural aspect of the refuse incineration plant (KVA) and the fire station. The workshop imposes its presence on the town and adopts the stacking concept from the neighbouring buildings. The new building complex emphasises the main direction of the infrastructure buildings (KVA and fire station), and forms the keystone to the entire site developed over the last few years. The workshop strikes up a dialogue with the existing and planned development on the Von Roll site situated opposite, thereby creating a gateway for the town of Berne.

Exterior concept

The arrangement chosen with the central transit allows works traffic to be concentrated in the rear section to the north. The drive down to the underground car park is short and direct. This concept offers two essential benefits. Firstly, access from the south is completely car-free, and secondly, it is not necessary to seal all the areas. A lot of attention has been paid to users' intuitive ease of access. The triangular space on Murtenstrasse will be carefully designed and highlighted by a group of pines which will replace the existing conifers. The bicycle stands and car parking spaces for visitors border this pleasantly proportioned square.

Architecture and design concept

The creative connection between a functionally optimised workshop and office use is achieved by means of precise positioning and an overall volumetric perspective. The building is a composition made from volume, and it winds itself around an open, internal courtyard. This rich architectural composition unfurls itself to the overhead and external perspective. It rests at the heart of the industrious centre. The spatial gradations respond to the forest and the town, echoing the fire station and surpassing themselves as they vie with the refuse incinerator.

The outer shell which binds the shape of the building together, has two elongations, on the ground floor and the piano nobile (joint use of 1st floor). These exceptions are emphasised by the closed horizontal balustrades of constant height, and divide the space into a base and an upper structure. The various fillings of the large format "grid" exemplify the interweaving of the two functions and the common spaces.

The façade of prefabricated fibreglass reinforced concrete elements and large format openings is robust and industrial and borrows from the materiality of the incinerator and the formats of the university buildings. The building thus becomes a mediator and it is already writing the next chapter in the story of the town.

Traffic and access

The approach road and traffic access were systematically planned in accordance with the specifications and checked by means of tractrix curves. A clear, simple separation of visitor and works traffic has been achieved. Visitors to operating units drive along the edge of the site, arriving right beside the main entrance. All the visitor car parks are beside the entrance on Murtenstrasse. This simple planning measure creates safety.