Return to main story


Spiral staircase at Unitobler in Bern, Switzerland Unitobler
Bern, Switzerland

Canton of Bern

Pierre Clemencon, Daniel Herren, Andrea Roost

Building type

Award Category
Public sector, over $25 million

Recycling an old Tobler chocolate factory as a library allowed Bern, Switzerland, to keep its large city university an urban institution rather than relocate it to the suburbs.

But the process was difficult. It took a local referendum on the project, plus many months of discussion between the city, the university, and the three architects hired to do the job. Alternative plans for public housing and commercial development were competing for the choice site.

To open up space for a courtyard, the architects removed most of the 20 structures on the site. They retrofitted the largest factory building, taking advantage of the best light and cool breezes, thus avoiding the need for air conditioning.

One of the great benefits of recycling old buildings is the availability of nooks and crannies. Then there are all those old, winding staircases that can foster casual encounters.

Return to main story


Updated Oct. 23, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
Terms of Use