Research & Education

New plant protection laboratory WSL, Birmensdorf

The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) has extended its existing facility in Birmensdorf by adding a laboratory building with plant protection laboratories at biosafety levels BSL 1, 2 and 3, as well as a greenhouse at biosafety level BSL 3. The design, submitted in a competition, envisaged a clear, cubic structure with a greenhouse extension. 

The existing heterogeneous ensemble of buildings runs in an east-west direction along an internal access axis. The new building is positioned to the north of the access axis, via which it in turn is accessed. The greenhouse and the laboratory building are realized as a functional and structural unit. 

In the laboratory building's tripartite design, the laboratories are positioned in a deeper spatial layer and the offices in a narrower spatial layer. Situated between these layers, is a narrow central section with ancillary laboratory rooms which require no daylight, as well as equipment rooms and riser zones. 

In compliance with WSL's wishes, the supporting structure and facade are designed as timber constructions. The facade design and floor plan structure reflect the modularity inherent in a rational and cost-effective timber construction. In addition to the use of sustainable construction materials, the planned laboratory building is also designed for optimal energy efficiency to meet the requirements of the Minergie-Eco standard. 

Sensible application of a clear sequence and standardization of the rooms in each zone serves the purpose of high flexibility within the spatial layers. Consistent system separation with regard to the supporting structure, the fit-out and the building services equipment guarantees high adaptability for subsequent installations and changes of usage. 

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and
Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf 

Period of time
2010 – 2014

Architecture, general planning, realization

Thomas Jantscher