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“Faraday” project crowned winner

Primeo Energie is revamping its Energy Leaning Centre to mark its 125th anniversary in 2022. The company is breaking away from the current museum set-up, which delves back into the past, and is looking ahead to the future instead. With this in mind, the aim is to develop a modern, smart and future-oriented Energy Learning Centre in a building that is fit for purpose. The existing Electricity Museum is being renovated and a new extension is being built. An architecture competition saw the “Faraday” project by Rapp Architekten from Münchenstein come out on top.

Aussenansicht (Visualisierung Rapp Architekten und lichtbox.net)

Exterior view new building (visualization Rapp Architekten / lichtbox)

The educational Energy Learning Centre provided by Primeo Energie is being remodelled with a future-oriented overall design and a new extension to celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary. The existing building – the former meter workshop – was converted into the Electricity Museum for EBM’s 100th anniversary. The 1930s structure is listed as an important monument in the Canton. It is undergoing renovation whilst an attractive new building is being constructed. The new multifunctional extension will serve various purposes and accommodate several components of the Energy Learning Centre.

The new Energy Learning Centre is intended as a hub for education, entertainment and experiences and will be a place outside of school where children can learn about all things energy-related through interactive activities. The issue of an energy revolution – something that also relates to climate change – will be one of the most important and most discussed topics for years to come, including in Switzerland. Primeo Energie wants to sparks people's interest in new concepts and encourage them to use energy in an efficient way.

In order to gather as many proposals as possible for a contemporary and future-looking new building solution, Primeo Energie launched an architecture competition. In addition to technical and structural requirements, sustainability was at the heart of the brief: the developer wanted a building that would have minimal impact on the environment in its creation and operations. The new building is intended to serve as a role model in terms of structural engineering, energy and the environment. It is to be built to an innovative and future-oriented design, using recycled and recyclable materials and building components that can be dismantled and reused.

To get the process under way, the developer launched a single-stage competition, which five architecture firms were invited to take part in. The judging panel, headed up by architect Harry Gugger, selected the “Faraday” project by Rapp Architekten from Münchenstein as the winner. The project was presented to the media on Thursday, 14 November 2019. This was followed by the opening of a public exhibition featuring the various competition entries. The following architecture firms entered the competition: ffbk Architekten, Münchenstein; Kunz + Mösch Architekten, Basel; Rapp Architekten, Münchenstein; Schröer Sell Architekten, Basel; Vécsey Schmidt Architekten, Basel.

With the “Faraday” project, the Rapp Architekten team put together a concept which involves renovating the building which currently houses the Electricity Museum and structurally enhancing it to create an electricity experience centre, while the new building will introduce an architectural counterpoint as a space for knowledge and experimentation.

The simple, filigree construction builds on the basic geometric shape of four squares and is covered in a three-dimensional lattice structure enveloped in greenery. Compared with the existing building, it represents a symbol of progress and looking to the future. The consistent use of environmentally friendly building materials with low levels of grey energy or recyclable materials is part and parcel of the design. The exterior walls are made of wood with a sandwiched layer of rock wool thermal insulation. The ceilings are made of standardised wooden beams and concrete elements.

The new building meets the Minergie-P-ECO energy standard. The heating is supplied from the existing Primeo Energie local heating network, which uses waste heat mostly generated from renewable energies. The level of technology and automation is suitable for the building’s requirements, resulting in low energy and maintenance costs. Electricity is generated by the company’s own photovoltaic panels as well as by trial wind energy systems on the roof.

In addition to the nine-strong judging panel comprising internal and external experts, the competition organiser also called upon internal experts from various specialist areas relating to energy and sustainability in the preliminary examination of the entries. The competition process was carried out by the building developer. The organiser is very pleased with the outcome of the competition and was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of innovative solutions put forward and the sheer amount of work put in by all participating architects.

For Primeo Energie, the future-oriented transfer of knowledge for children and young people in the energy and climate sector is an important concern. It strives to ensure that the generations to come live responsibly and smarter. Primeo Energie is investing around CHF 6 to 7 million in converting and building this forward-looking, innovative educational hub.

The winning project and the other competition entries will be on display to interested visitors on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from 15 to 27 November 2019 at the Primeo Energie Electricity Museum, Weidenstrasse 8 in Münchenstein.

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