BILL in Wetzikon

Wetzikon is proving to be a good area for the competition activities of Lüchinger+Meyer’s structural engineers. After last year’s success in the design selection process for the renovation of the city council, we are now delighted to have won 1st place in the competition for the overall renovation and extension of the Walenbach school complex as part of the Waeber / Dickenmann / Partner team. Then as now, the famous Gottfried Keller quote was the inspiration for the design work: “Let us hold on to the old as it is good. But on old ground create new things at every hour.”
Today’s primary school complex – located on the watercourse that gives it its name in the Kempten district – was built in 1975 by the Wetzikon architectural firm of Jost Meier Architekten. On the basis of a feasibility study, the project sponsors decided to renovate the existing building structure. Not least due to sustainability considerations (“gray energy”), the architecturally high-quality facility, which consists of school building A, a gymnasium and a singing room, is to be preserved. It will be complemented by a new school wing B in order to meet the requirements of the updated school space planning with additional classrooms, a kindergarten and extended day structures.
The BILL design envisions a southwestern expansion via a two-story articulated structure whose design is based on the consistently planned through concrete element construction of the existing building. The constructive peculiarities of the facility are thereby transformed into a contemporary, ecological mode of expression and construction. The jury explicitly acknowledges the success of this approach: “The constructive implementation of the hybrid wood-concrete element construction, as a contemporary interpretation and transformation of the existing facility, with the visible joining principle of the vertical and horizontal load-bearing and structural elements, is very convincing.”

The proposed structural design for the new school space expansion is simple, clear and functional, and developed with sustainability in mind. The supporting structure makes a significant contribution to structuring the spatial arrangement of the building and ensures a high degree of flexibility of use with generously chosen spans. The longitudinal primary beams are made of glulam. They are supported by prefabricated slender concrete columns. The slabs, which span in the transverse direction and rest on the primary beams, are designed as prefabricated BSP board-and-plywood composite slabs. Both the superimposed concrete of the composite structure and the concreted walls of the cores and building base are made in recycled concrete. The building is designed in such a way that an addition to the building is possible in the same construction method without additional measures.
“The BILL project contribution succeeds in a convincing way to expand the existing school complex Walenbach in a coherent way, as the new building volume naturally fits into the urban, architectural and exterior context. The high spatial quality and the stringent depth of the design distinguish this entry in particular. In the overall assessment, the jury acknowledges the very careful design as an excellent basis for further project planning.” We are happy to take up the jury’s appreciative overall conclusion as additional motivation for the upcoming project work.

(Visualisations: Waeber / Dickenmann / Partner / Architekten)