Text description provided by the architects. 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. 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 that holds much promise for the future.
The Swatch and Omega Campus is a monumental timber building project, comprised of three buildings: The Swatch Headquarters – Swatch’s multistory office space; The Omega Factory – the production center of Omega watches; and 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.
The Swatch Headquarters is playful, innovative, and provocative. Itsgridshell 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.
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. Groundwater 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 indoor- outdoor 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.