Tradition in Modernity

Private Bank, Genf

Deutsche Werkstätten’s Scope of Services:

Project Management, Interior Outfitting


Completion 2014


Today, whoever thinks ‘wood and architecture together’, thinks ‘Switzerland’. Also in interior outfitting the pioneering country is setting the standards for modern wooden building construction. Therefore, much of what happens in Switzerland in this field is a challenge at all levels. This was confirmed for us when the order was received for work at a private bank in Switzerland. It was a challenging project in which wood plays an important role as a design element.


The conservative, historical building structures accommodating this bank (16,300m²) are situated in Geneva. Before we even began with the calculation in-house, we supported the architects by creating the specifications for the interior work. Design engineering, manufacturing and installation followed in a separate contract. Under the direction of Make Architects and the Swiss architect’s office IttenBrechbühl from February 2013 to March 2014 we were allowed to work on a design for the interior which reflects the international identity of the bank as well as local influences. A view of the wall panelling and counter suffices to confirm this concept. They imitate the square log construction of the Swiss highlands. The outcome is not a heavy-handed copy, but a modern interpretation that in its plasticity has almost sculptural character. Florian Frotscher, Partner at Make and Head Architect of the project, said: "The task of connecting modern functional areas to an existing structure requires careful consideration and a continuous weighing of conditions and possibilities. We have combined a sensitive harmonious, almost inconspicuous external appearance with an expressive inner world and worked consciously with a reduced and controlled material palette." In this material palette the wood accents play a major role.


The viewer sees the ‘expressive inner world’ of technical perfection. The structures move in space. There are many smooth transitions and curves, then again jumps and changes. Uniting a multitude of small parts produces large, perfectly combined structures. Not many of these parts appear in series, but are one-offs, resulting in very intensive and time consuming work in all phases of the implementation. If you also bear in mind, when you look at the counter for example, that it is not massive logs, but a technically demanding substructure with a veneered surface, then the result is even more amazing. There are also radiator covers, entrance areas, cash desks, stairways, and a lot more. 115 metres of corridors alone had to be fitted out: All of these, cladded in dark walnut and light oak. Our Swiss adventure is no longer an adventure; instead it is beautiful day in, day out. We are increasingly getting the chance to work on demanding Swiss federal projects and are looking forward to the next one.


Text: Deutsche Werkstätten
Photo: Make Architects; IttenBrechbuehl/ John MacLean