The new era of urban manufacturing

As a company, when the brand name coincides with that of the location in which you operate, you feel a mix of pride and responsibility. The pride of being part of a community and the responsibility for your impact on people and resources. While many businesses were relocating abroad, V-ZUG decided not only to stay, but to invest in new production facilities in the TechCluster Zug, a future proof plan to develop V-ZUG’s original site into an open urban hub for technology and innovation.

Diener & Diener is an architecture firm established in Basel in 1942, with offices in Basel and Berlin. Renowned for its close attention to the architectural history of the city and modernity as it develops new types of buildings, Diener & Diener strongly believes that a design for an urban plan and an architectural project must be rooted in the past.

Michael Roth trained as an architectural draughtsman before studying at the Basel University of applied sciences, and graduating as Architect HTL. From 1996 to 2000 he worked as a lead project architect in Berlin. He joined Diener & Diener in November 2000, has been a member of the board of directors since 2005 and was made a partner in 2011.

In 2018, the city parliament approved the Technology Cluster Zug zoning plan, the development of the V-ZUG original site into an ecosystem of production sites, office buildings and real estate for living. According to Beat Weiss, TechCluster CEO, it is also an architectural project, where each building reflects the vision, mission and values of this ambitious project.

One of the first pieces of this complex masterplan was the V-ZUG Zephyr Hangar designed by the Basel-based, Swiss architectural studio Diener & Diener. As a production facility building, the first inspiration was that of an old manufacturing shed roof. Additionally, these slanted roof sections allow natural light in and provide space for a photovoltaic system that supplies energy for the whole plant. Today, this impressive building hosts the pressing plant and other production facilities. It consists of two layers: on the ground floor there is the press, the very heart of the production. The second layer, like a suspended factory, provides space for all the surface treatment facilities. Stacking two functions on top of each other to optimise space by creating a sort of vertical industry was just the first innovation: the second was the extensive use of wood, a material nobody would use in an industrial context, least of all for a company whose core business is transforming metal.

Aesthetics was not secondary at all in this project: as the building is situated in a city, it was important that the factory would have a high architectural standard. It was also very important that the building was built in line with V-ZUG and the TechCluster values. As a core material, the architects chose timber, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 66% compared with traditional construction materials. And it took significantly less time: just five months for the construction site, roof included. In addition, the use of 100% Swiss timber supported the local economy and know-how. The wooden production hall with its pillarless sawtooth roof was so beautiful that in 2020, while still empty, it was used as a venue for concerts. The acoustics are so good because the factory has been designed to insulate sound, in respect of the neighbouring homes.

Completed in 2019, the V-ZUG Zephyr Hangar has become fully operational step by step since then. A factory of the future, it represents the starting point of a contemporary manufacturing city.

The interiors of the V-ZUG Hangar. The structure and the facade are made from 100% Swiss timber. Architects and engineers studied how long it takes Swiss forests to regrow the same amount of material used for the V-ZUG Hangar, and the answer was surprising: an hour.

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