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Vertical accentuation: Rotsee Finish Line Tower

The Finish Line Tower ("Zielturm") for rowing regattas at Lake Rotsee, Switzerland, offers a relief-like façade and subtle offsets in its three levels. The wooden structure is the first phase in the Naturarena Rotsee renewal programme. A rowing centre is to be opened in 2016.

Architects:
Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architekten
Location: Rotsee, Luzern, Switzerland

In the Finish Line Tower project, the greatest challenge probably involved reconciling the functional requirements with a design that establishes identity.  The task was thus to develop a building that blends in harmoniously with the landscape while forming a striking point of reference for the rowers.  

To reconcile these opposing requirements, the architects came up with the idea of giving the building a changing look. This has been achieved through use of sliding and hinged wooden shutters. Opened on all sides during competitions, they give the building an inviting appearance, but when it is not in use, the closed shoulders make it a reserved wooden structure, one that is almost imperceptible in the dark.

The height of the tower results from the stacking of the various units, which differ in their orientation according to function.  The rooms are axially arranged with the finish line, one above the other. The narrow elevation is thus aligned to the finish line, while the wider one faces towards the finish area, indicating where the sports ground comes to an end. The tower is thus not only a means of vertical accentuation but also an identity-fostering feature for the rowers on the Rotsee.

A concrete platform supports the pre-fabricated modular wooden units, anchoring the building into place in the water while providing access from the shoreline. The pine wood used for the structure stems from sustainably managed forests and in order to make the building more durable has been surface-treated to absorb as little water as possible.   

Raw materials and unobtrusive furniture characterise the interior of the Finish Line Tower. Rudimentary wall and floor coverings are appropriate to the building's inner functions, whereas the outer skin is almost immaculate. In conjunction with the wooden floors and the wooden façade, the offset volumes that provide shelter on the outside form a homogenous whole, underscoring the sculptural look of the structure from both nearby and further away. 

In the Finish Line Tower, Andreas Fuhrimann and Gabrielle Hächler Architects have achieved a spatially exciting interplay of functional stringency and sculptural lightness.  The elegant structure changes in appearance according to the time of the day, like the natural landscape around it. When the tower is in use, it takes on an open guise, admitting to the functions it fulfils. Rustic and robust, with charming details such as window stays yet bare of superfluous ornamentation, it modestly presents itself to its surroundings. At nightfall or when the rowing season is over, the tower closes itself off, withdraws into the background and stands quiet and still, a sculpture that changes in appearance depending on the position of the observer. 


Project data

Client: Naturarena Rotsee
Construction management: Schärli Architekten AG
Timber construction planner: Lauber Ingenieure für Holzbau & Bauwerkserhalt
Timber construction: 1a Holzbau Hunkeler
Project management: Daniel Stankowski
Planning period: May 2012 - March 2013
Construction period:  December 2012 - May 2013
Area: 123 m²
Costs: 1.3 million CHF

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This article is taken out of the following magazine:
DETAIL 7+8/2014
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