"We specifically promote timber construction in Winterthur"
A whole series of large wooden buildings is currently being built in Winterthur. This will help the city on the Eulach to achieve its climate goals, says city councillor and head of the building department Christa Meier in an interview with SPAN.
Ms Meier, an above-average amount of timber is being used in Winterthur today. Is your city becoming a timber construction stronghold? Timber construction in Winterthur has indeed taken on a certain momentum of its own. Projects such as the Giesserei multi-generation house in Neuhegi or the Krokodil house in Lokstadt, which have also attracted attention beyond the region, are particularly inspiring and infectious. These modern wooden buildings have definitely changed our perspective: On the one hand, they no longer have anything in common with rustic mountain chalets; on the other hand, they show that they are at least equal in quality to traditional buildings. And then, of course, there is the sustainability aspect.
The people of Winterthur do indeed seem to be very environmentally conscious. I would subscribe to that. We very often see environmentally friendly results in referendums. About seven years ago, the population voted in favour of the goal of a 2000-watt society. As Energy City Gold and with our progressive energy and climate policy, we are largely on course here, but we must not lose sight of the goals.
Is a 2000-watt society even possible without timber construction? I believe that without timber construction, the goals of the 2000-watt society are difficult or even impossible to achieve. That's why we are also trying to promote timber construction in Winterthur in a targeted way by setting appropriate incentives for the building owners.
How do you achieve this in concrete terms? Our most effective instrument for this are design plans. And because very large areas are currently being built on in the city, we can also achieve a lot for the environment through them. To put it bluntly, we can make deals with the developers. The design plans allow certain deviations from the standard building, for example, denser or higher building. In return, the developer commits to the design of outdoor spaces, a traffic concept or building in accordance with the goals of the 2000-watt society. This is where timber construction often comes into play.
So will the trend towards wooden buildings in Winterthur continue? I am convinced of that. We can see that just by looking at the increasing number of building applications that take timber construction into account. But my wish would be that wood would finally be used in municipal building projects. Apart from a very small project in Wülflingen, this has not yet happened.
That means you also have a personal affinity for wood? Intuitively, I find wood a very appealing, cosy material. Even in very modern, functional buildings, the warmth and charm remain. On the other hand, wood is of course a forward-looking building material that we should definitely use if we want to achieve the climate goals efficiently.
About the person
Christa Meier (46) has been a Winterthur city councillor and head of the Department of Construction since June 2018. Before that, the SP politician was a municipal councillor for ten years, five of them in the building and operations commission.