Situated at the northern entrance to the EPFL campus, the SwissTech Convention Center becomes a new landmark, a clearly identifiable reference point in the landscape. The metallic shell, closely following the internal spatial configuration of the optimised main auditorium, seems to float over the glazed facades that enclose both the auditorium and the foyer, allowing a maximum of daylight to penetrate the inner spaces.
The auditorium is designed to accommodate up to 3,000 people, but just as importantly, it can be subdivided into alternative configurations to allow for a variety of smaller-scale events to take place simultaneously or in sequence. The optimisation of these spaces in their different arrangements, which guarantee impeccable sight lines and balanced distances from the different stage set-ups in each case, ultimately defined the building’s form. The question of external cladding for the shell of the convention center was resolved through a typical process of research in terms of form and materiality, leading to the selection of elongated diamond-shaped tiles in anodised aluminium.
A subtle variation in their depth reinforces the rich textural nature of the shell’s surface. The maximum capacity of 3,000 seats in the auditorium is only required on a limited number of occasions per year. The possibility to subdivide this main space in order to create other spaces that are just as suitably proportioned and optimised was part of the brief from the outset. Moveable partitions allow the upper balcony as well as the area of the parterre below the balcony to be closed off.
Hydraulic platforms and rotating seat mounts allow the auditorium to be transformed into a flat, multi-purpose room or banquet hall in a matter of minutes. The west facade of the main foyer is draped in 400 square metres of glazed panels, which include revolutionary dye-sensitized solar cells, developed by the Swiss chemist Michael Grätzel of the EPFL, to provide protection from the afternoon sun while generating 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The artist Catherine Bolle worked with the technically possible colours to achieve Le Semainier.
Client: Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Hospitality, Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Living Plus, EPFL
Total Contractor: HRS Real Estate SA
Structural engineer: Ingeni SA + Daniel Willi SA
Geotechnical engineer: Karakas & Français SA
HVAC engineer: RG Riedweg et Gendre SA
Sanitary engineer: Duchein SA
Electrical engineer: Betelec SA
Safety specialist: Hautle Anderegg + Partner SA
Facades Specialist: BCS SA
Acoustical Specialist: AAB - Stryjenski & H. Monti SA
Interior Design: RDR Design SA
Scenography: Scéno Plus (Montréal), SonicDesign Distribution Sàrl
Landscape Architect: L’Atelier du Paysage Jean-Yves Le Baron Sàrl
Artists: Catherine Bolle, Daniel Schlaepfer