A selection of development projects in Switzerland’s largest bilingual city - Outlook
New hotel and residential development set urban accents
The centre of Biel/Bienne’s Bözingen district, on the city’s east side, has undergone major upgrading work in recent years through substantial private investment in public space facilities. Right at the point where the Schüss Gorge spectacularly emerges from the southern slope of the Jura, Priora is building a residential development featuring an impressive high-rise tower and a hotel. These additional facilities for Biel/Bienne’s business community and private tourism will be an additional boost to the city’s eastern industrial zone and the Tissot Arena. Construction work is due to begin in summer 2020.
Urban building land for industrial added value
A supply of building land with a prime location and infrastructure has long been a key feature of Biel/Bienne’s location policy. Two more industrial projects are under construction in 2020, thus benefitting from the city’s strategy and creating space for engineers and industrial specialists, with construction concepts utilising space to maximum effect. Expansion projects currently being pursued by Power Integrations (power electronics) and Dexel (watch components) are further strengthening Biel/Bienne’s reputation as a high-tech location. www.biel-bienne.ch/boezingenfeld_esp
The Biel/Bienne success story continues
The biggest watch brand in the world produces all its watch movements in Biel/Bienne. Over the coming years it will continue to invest in the city’s technology and production location, supplementing the existing infrastructure with additional new buildings on its own land reserves. www.rolex.com
Concentration of machine engineering in Biel/Bienne
The Georg Fischer Group has greatly enhanced Biel/Bienne’s position as an industrial location with its construction of a new facility for up to 450 employees. GF Machining Solutions production lines and associated development activities are housed under the same roof in Roger-Federer-Allee, immediately adjacent to the Tissot Arena. The facility was opened in 2019, with further expansion work already planned.
Long-term development, step by step
Right next to the new Swatch/Omega buildings and Schüss Island park, new opportunities in the city’s Gurzelen district have been created following removal of the football stadium and redevelopment of various sites. While part of the space is currently being used for interim socio-cultural purposes (www.terrain-gurzelen.org), a call for non-profit housing developers was issued in 2019 in an initial stage.
Jardin du Paradis and award-winning Schüss Island design
The newly created island in the river flowing through Biel/Bienne and the «Jardin du Paradis» residential complex, comprising 279 units, form a perfect symbiosis. This landscaping project received the «Flâneur d’Or 2017» award from the Swiss association for pedestrian traffic and the «Goldener Hase 2017» rom architecture magazine ‘Hochparterre’ in the category «Landscape architecture». www.biel-bienne.ch/schuessinsel
In 2019 work was completed on the impressive new complex for Omega manufacturing, Swatch headquarters and the «Cité du Temps» museum. The Swatch Group has invested well over CHF 200 million in the city centre, in highly distinctive architecture and state-of-the-art production capacity.
Contemporary cultural and youth centre
The X-Project youth and culture centre has been a major part of Biel/Bienne city life for some twenty years. Following recent work, the building on Rennweg has been completely revamped and now boasts a new climbing hall, with space to develop further cultural and sport activities as of 2020.
A major boost for traffic
Following the commissioning of new tunnels in 2017, it’s now possible to bypass the entire eastern section of the Biel/Bienne conurbation, thus interconnecting motorways to and from Berne, Zurich and the Bernese Jura district. Biel/Bienne is reinforcing its infrastructure – and hence its position as a national transport hub – and is reaping the benefits of a significant improvement in its domestic traffic situation. www.a5-biel-bienne.ch/ostast
First-class urban living in Biel/Bienne’s «Central Park»
Located right in the city centre next to the Kongresshaus and the «Gaskessel» cultural centre, the «Esplanade» development has been completely re-designed, with a spacious plaza, underground car parking and a green area. Work was completed in 2019. On the north side of the park, Esplanade residents enjoy a generous open-plan urban environment.
«Gaskessel» business centres, hotel and refurbished cultural centre
Adjacent to Biel/Bienne’s architectural icon, the «Kongresshaus» conference centre, Alpine Finanz AG is investing in the expansion of its multi-functional building. Business centres, retail spaces and a new Marriot Courtyard Hotel are rounding off the city’s facilities and are providing synergies for conference business. Building work is scheduled to begin in 2020. Expansion and refurbishment work is planned for the «Gaskessel», the nationally renowned cultural centre located close by, with work due to begin in summer 2020. www.centre-esplanade.ch
Strategic investment for up to 600 employees
Major bank UBS opened its new Business Solutions Center in 2019 in the prime location at Biel/Bienne train station. In the medium term, several hundred bankers, IT staff and service employees will support UBS global business activities from Biel/Bienne.
An attractive home for culture
In 2018 work was completed on converting the former «Palace» cinema into a theatre and opera hall featuring state-of-the-art technology. With its new infrastructure and independent programming, «Nebia» serves as a centre for French-speaking culture with a geographical sweep extending far beyond Biel/Bienne.
New building covering 10 000 m2 opened
Since 2013 Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne AG has experienced impressive growth. Supported by private industry, the company has successfully established itself as a provider of industrial space, research services and technology platforms – both as an innovation accelerator for industry and as a talent magnet for highly qualified workers. So its move in 2020/21 from temporary buildings to a bespoke infrastructure in a prime location between the train station and the lake will not be before time.
Keystone of the Bahnhof-See district
In 2019 excavation work for the largest construction project in Biel/Bienne city centre was completed. Located next to the train station and Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne, the «Campus Biel/Bienne» of Berne university of applied sciences (BFH) will be a dominant feature in the area between the train station and the lake. When it becomes operational, some 2,650 people will be able to study and work here. The development will also enhance the entire region’s position as a place for education and innovation.
Where city meets lake
In 2019, the urban development concept for the new district was drawn up in a cooperation between the cities of Nidau and Biel/Bienne, and with the financial backing of Mobimo. Political decisions are expected in 2021. The long-term project is a unique opportunity for the whole region to expand its housing provision and its urban experience down to one of the most beautiful lakeside bays in Switzerland. www.agglolac.ch
For the first time in Biel/Bienne’s history, tax receipts from natural persons reached the CHF 100m. mark in 2019, following a steady increase with the same tax rate in recent years.
Biel/Bienne‘s dynamic expansion is expected to continue during the coming years. The city still has great potential, with land reserves available for future housing, lifestyle and work projects. We’ll be pleased to keep you updated about actual offers and opportunities.