Forstwerkhof und Verwaltungsgebäude Burgergemeinde, Biel

Forestry Installation Building "Bourgeoisie", Biel

Holzpreis Schweiz Price Lignum 2009

The site of the forestry center extends on both sides of  the "Reuchenette" road. To facilitate it's function, the program's content focused on only one side. Following the topography of the land, two buildings form an elongated space ending with a court for the maneuvers.

The single level building dominates the main street façade and differs, both in form and aspect, from the urban architecture. Its envelope is made of rough and untreated strips of wood. It generates a oriented vertically texture, that dialogues with the forest structure and filters the light and the external views. This building serves as a shelter for vehicles and machines, also serving as depository for wood material that has been extracted from the forest. Its east front marks the entrance to the warehouse and houses the retail space. The second building, on two levels, is positioned behind the first. It is covered with a simple wooden cladding, pierced with large windows. The ground floor houses the changing rooms, the carpentry workshop and the technical rooms, while upstairs, the administration.
Located on the edge of the urban fabric between the city and the forest, the project -through its form and materiality- gives visibility to this singular institution.


In Switzerland, the bourgeoisie is a personal, surviving medieval law. The bourgeoisie, or civic community, is a local authority, which still exists in some cantons, which involves the original inhabitants of the municipality or former citizen, as opposed to new residents. The bourgeoisie, which is an institution dating back to the Municipalities Act of 1866 [unclear], has lost importance, but still manages, in some cantons, the forest and some others institutions.
Client: Burgergemeinde Biel / Competition: 1st price 2004 / Project: 2004-2006 / Execution: 2006-2007 / Costs: approx. 3.0 Mio CHF

Photos: Yves André