Lise & Lotte, Umbau und Umnutzung Sägestrasse 76/78, Köniz

AXA Leben AG
BHSF Architects
Landscape Architecture
Klötzli Friedli Landschaftsarch. AG
Structural Engineer
Lorenz Kocher GmbH
Technical Infrastructure
Wirkungsgrad Ingenieure AG, PZM Zürich AG, EK Energiekonzepte AG
Also Involved
Itten + Brechbühl AG
Floor Area incl. basement
13'375 m²
Study Period
2018 - 2019
Planning & Execution Period
2022 - 2024

In the study commission for the conversion of an office building into a residential building in Köniz near Berne, we reflected on the particular task at hand, but also about the “loft of the 21st century” in general. While the classic industrial loft, created from the 1960s onwards, derives its character mainly from large room heights, vertical windows and raw materials, the compact lofts of the 21st century will be built in former office buildings. So what are the essential features (those that need to be preserved) characterizing a quality office loft? The “Lise & Lotte” project offers several points of reference to answer these questions.

Just like an industrial loft, the existing building in Köniz has an identity that has emerged from rational considerations and is so dominant that it can and must be used as a basis for all further considerations. This identity derives from the spatial framework of columns, ceilings and cores optimized for the original office function. Because of its uniform floor heights, the continuous concrete parapets and window bands, the spatial framework makes for a horizontal dynamic that strongly characterizes both the external expression of the buildings and their interiors. The window bands are therefore basically left as they are, and the apartments of “Lise & Lotte” are primarily conceived along the façade. Only in exceptional cases do they develop into the depth of the building.

However, a loft conversion always means a change in identity, which becomes visible through the addition of strong elements that are an expression of the new use. Thus, the change from a pure office to a residential and work building is expressed through specific interventions and additions. And the naming “Lise & Lotte” completes the step away from the “anonymous” office building.