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Andy Senn Architekt, Salez, Agricultural Centre

Wood Hybrid for Living and Learning: Agricultural Centre in Salez

The new building for the Agricultural Centre, designed by architect Andy Senn to stand on the Rhine alluvial plain in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, extends before an imposing Alpine backdrop. The long, L-shaped building erected using wood-hybrid techniques is situated on the outskirts of the village of Salez, where it brings together classrooms, a seminar centre and overnight accommodations for guests. It joins onto an existing factory workshop to create a spacious new courtyard.

Because the ground has low bearing capacity, the building has been set on piles of reinforced concrete. The lower level and floor slab are of the same material. On top of these a clearly structured, restrained wooden building assertively adds itself to the surroundings. The long, two-level area with classrooms for vocational training in agriculture consists of a skeleton construction, done entirely in wood, with a 2.14-metre grid that enables the large spans of the ceiling joists and will allow a great degree of flexibility in the long term. The shorter, three-storey wing, built with modular techniques, is home to 28 double rooms. Wood-concrete composite ceilings provide the required stiffening and offer good soundproofing as well. Arcades serve the façades as constructive protection from the sun and weathering. The areas exposed to the weather consist of hardwood, while all other parts of the supporting structure are of softwood, most of which comes from the nearby forests. Large windows in the rooms, which extend as high as 4.40 m, allow for ideal daylight conditions and open up views to the south over the meandering Rhine Valley.

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