Laufen, Switzerland’s largest bathroom manufacturer, announced the opening of Forum, its new visitor and exhibitor center. Located in Laufental in the canton of Baselland, Forum serves as a brand architectural statement and as a hub for inspirational bathrooms.
The structure is impressive at 21,325 square feet. It houses exhibition, presentation and training space in addition to Laufen’s product displays. Visitors can even take a dip in the bathtub while exploring the many vignettes.
According to the company, Forum is Laufen’s tribute to its product range, which has evolved three fold since its ceramic beginnings in 1892. Laufen created Forum as a stunning architectural backdrop for its bathroom collections for all to enjoy.
Forum is surrounded by Laufen’s offices and production facilities. Basel-based architecture firm Nissen & Wentzlaff collaborated with Laufen’s art department to come up with the design. Viewed from above, the building’s layout resembles a well-known Laufen washbasin. Viewed from the ground, it resembles an organic sculpture cast in exposed concrete.
The building was cast in one piece, exactly like its ceramic model. The virtually windowless concrete structure is based on a design principle akin to that of bridge construction. The extensively projecting free-form structure is poised on a slope.
As a well-insulated and low-energy building, it operates on a low amount of extra heating via concrete core activation, a Swiss invention that activates the concrete of a structure by continuously circulating water (or a different temperature conductor) through flexible pipes that have been incorporated in the floors, resulting in an even temperature everywhere.
The reinforced concrete roof features 48 built-in sky lights, which play an integral role in the building’s ventilation system. Lamellar vents are located between the retaining walls that separate the exhibition booths on the ground floor. Their dimensions are the same size as the skylights, which can be opened to let air into the building for a green air conditioning method.