Large Scale Prefab

New seven-story building with its visible wood construction

Project description

In the centre of Zurich, not far from the main railway station, a spectacular office building has recently begun to demonstrate the potential of wood as construction material. Shigeru Ban designed this new seven-story building with its visible wood construction as an addition to the headquarters of the Tamedia publishing company.

The structure was to permit an assembly process similar to building blocks and feature a comprehensible load-bearing system. Wood elements were to remain exposed. To realize these architectural preconditions by using glue-laminated wood in premium quality for visible application and locking pin connections milled with extraordinary precision comprised a great challenge for all partners involved.


One of Shigeru Ban’s aims was to build the structure in its entirety of wood, similar to traditional Japanese timber buildings. Not only columns and beams, but also joint connections consist predominantly of wood: instead of screws, nails or steel connectors, special dowels made of beech plywood serve for load transmission and reinforcement of construction components.


The load-bearing structure with its full-height columns, beam pairs and girders with oval cross-section was created as a precise, CNC milled construction kit and assembled on-site similar to a three-dimensional puzzle. Planning and realization of this ambitious project were a great challenge for the timber engineers and builders.




Project details

building type: office and administration buildings, high-rise buildings
support structure construction: frame construction
facade construction: building envelope
roof construction: pitched roof, hip roof
support structure material: wood
facade material: metal, glass
roof material: metal, glass
interior work material: wood, natural wood, wood-based material
topic: prefabrication / modular systems, digital processes
issue no.: 01-02/2014