A new Landscape for the New Hydropower Plant Hagneck in Switzerland

Raymond Vogel Landschaften designed and constructed a completely new landscape around the new Hydropower Plant in Hagneck, Lake of Biel/Switzerland.There is no separation between man and nature, as man is a part of nature. Sometimes, human beings use their free will to choose separation from nature.

This is the attitude behind this project, reflected in the respectful and sensitive design of the new landscape. Life quality is not a «time-and-money-thing», Life quality is always present when we as human beings stay present, with open senses and realizing the connection. The art of Landscape Architecture is to design landscapes that support revealing the human naturalness of being connected, that support the memory of being at home on this planet. Like this, taking care for nature becomes a completely natural part of human behavior.

Historical context
The Aare Channel at the Lake of Biel / Switzerland is a very specific landscape, historically important and forward-looking.

About 130 years ago the first Jura Water Correction brought the precondition for a new delta of the river Aare at the lake of Biel. The aim of this huge project was the gain of fertile soil around the three lakes in this area. An important part of this work was the construction of new channels, one of them is the Hagneck channel that detours the river Aare into the Lake of Biel.

The enormous efforts shaped the form of the landscape fundamentally and built an overall appearance of the locality of national importance.

The Project
Away from settlements and traffic, behind the molasse hill lays the Hagneck delta with the hydropower plant in the natural landscape. The historically significant place at the lake of Biel is now being adapted to current requirements, the old overgrown cultural landscape is being enhanced and the existing qualities taken care of.

This context is the foundation for the design concept. Nature and landscape are configured and structured in the sense of a landscape park. Nature protection areas, nature preservation areas, recreation areas and working areas build sequences full of suspense between extensively and intensively used and maintained environments. The main focus is on the modeling of the terrain, the spacial sequence of the woods and the views in the landscape near the lake.

The greater meaning of the new weir system is its influence to the landscape of the Lake of Biel. The vastness of the water surface allows a great impression of the St. Peter’s Island, the vineyards of the left lakeside and the mountain Chasseral. One goal of the competition team was the low and compact appearance of the hydropower plant. Thus the building is excellently embedded in the context of the landscape.

The project is one of the first contemporary examples in Switzerland how the landscape of infrastructure facilities is becoming a landscape park for recreation. In this way this project exemplifies the future landscape development in densely populated areas and countries.

New Landscape around Hydropower Plant in Hagneck, Lake of Biel/Switzerland

Client |
Bielersee Kraftwerke AG c/o BKW Energie AG, Hydraulische Kraftwerke Viktoriaplatz 2, 3000 Bern, Thomas Richli, Project Manager

Team |
Raymond Vogel Landschaften AG Zurich, with Penzel Valier AG Zurich, architects and engineers; Peter Steiger Rodersdorf, ecological consulting; Dr. Arthur Kirchhofer, WFN AG Bern, fish biology.

Awards |
American Architecture Prize 2016 / Award for Marketing and Architecture 2016 / Landscape of the Year 2017 from the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation / Umsicht Regards Sguardi 2017 from the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects SIA.

Image Credits | Raymond Vogel Landschaften AG, Zürich