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Spectacular architecture Swatch moves into a giant wooden snake

The world's leading watchmaker, Swatch, has a new headquarters in the shape of a giant snake. 

The 240 meter building was inaugurated in the western Swiss city of Biel/Bienne at the foot of the Jura mountains. It is one of the world's largest timber structures, made from sustainable Swiss wood, and it's the work of prize-winning Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban.

The project also includes a new museum and the Omega production hall, with the headquarters housed in an undulating structure that snakes away from the more conventional buildings.

Taking time

It has taken 5 years to complete and cost Swatch CHF220 million. Ban said he had got on well with the company boss, Nick Hayek, and considered Biel a good place to work because it is famous for its timber technologies. 

Ban has won a number of architectural prizes, including the most prestigious of all – the Pritzer Prize (2014). He's no stranger to Switzerland, having also designed the wooden-framed seven-story headquarters of the Tamedia media group in Zurich in 2013. His other famous projects include a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand's Christchurch and shipping containers used as post-tsunami housing.

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