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Swatch’s new HQ snakes around Switzerland

Swatch has opened its new headquarters at Biel in north western Switzerland. The wooden building, one of the world’s largest timber structures, was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and looks like a massive wooden snake. Source: Timberbiz,

“We have invested CHF220 million (US$220 million) in these offices, including CHF125 million for the Swatch brand alone,” CEO Nick Hayek said.

The new office was designed by Tokyo architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the 2014 Pritzker Prize, and took five years to build.

The curved wooden honeycomb structure, with wood originating from Swiss forests, is 240 metres long and 35 metres wide.

Inside, there is 25,000 square metres of office space spread over five floors for all departments of Swatch International and Swatch Switzerland.

The new headquarters is located next to the factory for Swatch Group’s subsidiary Omega, also designed by Ban, and houses museums dedicated to the Swatch and Omega brands.

“This is a tribute to our father,” said Nayla Hayek, chair of the Swatch Group board of directors. Nicolas Hayek, who launched the Swatch empire.

As the location serves two brands, Omega and Swatch, it distinguishes the design concept according to the characteristics of each.

According to Mr Ban one shows the freedom and joyfulness of Swatch, the other the precision, accuracy and quality of Omega, and the integration of both Swatch and Omega personalities in Cité du Temps, the Swatch Group building.

The aim of Mr Ban was to give all three buildings something in common which is related to the local context of the site.

Wood was the optimum choice from two aspects.

From the construction point of view, it is the best structural material because of its high precision which allows an extremely quick and quiet erection process, and above all, wood is the only renewable structural material.

From a contextual point of view, wood was the choice because Biel/Bienne is known for its timber engineering school which leads timber technology in Switzerland.

The entire volume of timber used in this project is 4600m³ which corresponds to 10 hours of growth of entire trees in Switzerland.