Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf

Competition entered in 2014, 1st place. Refurbishment of the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape of office-, laboratory building and lecture hall, Birmensdorf, CH. (2015/16)

Upgrading the building complex

The building complex of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, from the 1950s no longer fulfills today’s needs. The project aims to optimize working processes and to give the spaces a better flexibility with simple measures. After the intervetion the building complex will have the energy standard Minergie-P-Eco.

 Building envelope

The main administrative building, the lecture hall and the laboratory building will have an envelope that is made of wooden prefabricated elements. The existing windows and window sills will be dismantled. The inner jambs will be cladded with prefabricated frame elements which also contain the service canals. The insulation thickness will be approximately 25 cm, the windows will be provided with triple insulation glazing and a U-value of approximately 0.9 W/m2K.

Building technology

With the new building envelope, the building technology can reduced to the necessary size and thus be very energy efficient. The heating and ventilation systems are equipped with heat recovery, waste heat from the cooling system is used to heat the hot water. The sanitary facilities use the waste heat of the wastewater.


The roofs are covered with a photovoltaic plant of 340 m2, which produces 56’600 kWh/a. The solar power is fed into the electricity grid, but can also be used to supply the charging stations for electric vehicles.


Research for people and the environment
The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research is concerned with the use, development and protection of natural and urban spaces.

The focus of our research is on solving problems to do with the responsible use of landscapes and forests and a prudent approach to natural hazards, especially those common in mountainous countries.

WSL occupies a leading position internationally in these research areas. We also provide groundwork for sustainable environmental policies in Switzerland.