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Rocket&Tigerli

Winterthur/Switzerland

Size/ 34.500 m2 (excl. sublevels)
Competition/ 1st place international competition
Status/ Ongoing
Client/ Implenia/Ina Invest AG
In Association/ Cometti Truffer Hodel Architects
Landscape Architect/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects / Vogt
Engineer/ B3 / Henaur-Gugler / Waldhauser+Hermann / Bruckner+Ernst
Sustainability/ Targeting SNBS Platinum and 2000-Watt Society

In the next four years, the world’s tallest residential building with a load-bearing structure in wood, will rise above the ridges in the Swiss city Winterthur, close to Zürich.

The 100-metres-tall tower, Rocket&Tigerli, is designed to create a framework for an active and attractive neighbourhood, deeply rooted in the area’s historical context, which offers modern, high-quality housing with maximum inflow of daylight.

Rocket&Tigerli, named after locomotives produced at the site, consists of four buildings in a tight choreography that mixes regular housing, student housing, a restaurant, retail spaces, sky-bar, spa, and hotel. The wide range of facilities are designed to activate the neighbourhood throughout the day, thus bringing life to the green open plaza, orchestrated by the four buildings.

Each building has its own visual identity to help create a strong sense of belonging among the residents, not only to the building that they are living in, but to the entire neighbourhood.

The competition was about examining the architectural possibilities of the new construction system. SHL’s proposal celebrates the structure of the construction itself through architectonic effects, where the wooden beams are highlighted as a distinctive element that gives the residents a sense of living inside the construction

The city of Winterthur, Northeast of Zürich, has formerly been known for its machine industry and locomotive production. Today, the city has become a progressive place of higher education and culture, but in the Lokstadt area – a city within the city – they cherish its 19th century industrial environment.

The architecture exhibits the high degree of detail that characterises the industrial architecture from that period of time. In the development of the project, the team has identified the qualities of the area as a guiding principle for the transformation.

By using the four buildings to frame the landscape, an urban space is composed by sequences. Together with retail and a restaurant, bright passages and green spaces at street level will create an active neighbourhood with a distinctive identity. A neighbourhood that invites residents and visitors alike to make use of the different activities.

SHL’s winning project opens up the area by creating attractive outdoor and indoor spaces that call for human interaction. In the original masterplan, the landscape was designed by international landscape architecture studio Vogt. To support the existing masterplan, SHL was inspired by the spaces and breaks that naturally occur in the industrial architecture in the meeting between large spaces and narrow streets.

In the design of the residential units, SHL challenges the classical high-rise typology by focusing extensively on the integration of daylight and spaciousness. This results in apartment spaces showered in daylight with double height. All residential units are angled to make most of the inflow of daylight and are designed with a high level of flexibility allowing the spaces to adapt to future needs.

Upon its realisation, the tower will seem like a natural continuation of the surrounding architecture. The façade will be covered in dark red and yellow terracotta bricks combined with details in dusty green;
a colour palette that reflects the red roofs and yellow bricks of the historical buildings in the area.

The project marks a milestone in the construction of timber buildings – not solely because of its 100 metres, which set the record for residential buildings with a load-bearing timber construction, but also because it introduces an innovative construction system that examines wood as a natural replacement for concrete.

The Swiss company Implenia and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zürich, ETH, have worked together in developing the new system, which allows the construction of taller timber buildings. In the new system, the concrete core has been replaced with wood, resulting in the fact that the individual beam comes in at a lower weight. This makes it possible to build taller constructions while, at the same time, ensures that the entire building process achieves a lower amount of embedded carbon.

From considering wood as a natural material, traditionally used in cottages and holiday houses, the material is now being treated with focus on its eminent qualities in relation to a building’s total energy consumption. Innovative construction technologies allow the wood to join the mainstream in the built environment both when it comes to all timber constructions, and when it comes to hybrids between timber and concrete constructions.

Rocket&Tigerli is expected to be completed and ready for residents to move in to by 2026.

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