Basel – a Mecca for architecture
Contemporary architecture has become a brand name for Basel. Cutting-edge buildings by top international architects in fascinating contrast to the dignified traditions of the old town round out the image of a cosmopolitan metropolis. Visitors are welcomed by architectural highlights from the time they set foot outside the historic halls of the main train station: nearby are the copper signal tower, the locomotive depot, and the Alsace Gate glass palace by Herzog & de Meuron from Basel. Just across the road are the white Euregio office building by the American Richard Meier and Roger Diener’s distinctive UBS training center building. In the immediate vicinity is the Peter Merian House by Zwimpfer Partners with its spectacular, emerald-green façade executed by the artist Donald Judd along with the Jakob Burckhardt House by Zwimpfer Partner and Jakob Steib. Just a five minute walk from the main train station brings you to the bank building conceived as a round sculpture by Mario Botta.
Pioneering museum buildings
In the last two decades, pioneering museum buildings have been constructed thanks to private patrons: An outstanding statement of contemporary architecture is the monumental Schaulager in Münchenstein, designed in 2003 by Herzog & de Meuron. In 1997, the Hildy and Ernst Beyerler collection found a new home in the Fondation Beyer Museum in Riehen using plans drawn by Renzo Piano. The Tinguely Museum was constructed by Mario Botta in 1996. And just outside Basel, in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Swiss furniture manufacture Vitra established the Vitra Design Museum and architecture park with buildings from Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Nicolas Grimschaw, Alvaro Siza and Tadao Ando.
Under the direction of Herzog & de Meuron, the Museum der Kulturen experienced a considerable expansion- a new pearl in the Basel chain of visionary architecture. And the Kunstmuseum Basel will also be expanded with a new building from Christ & Gantenbein Architects by 2015.
Spectacular major projects
The Messeturm, erected by the architect cooperative of Morger Degelo Marques in 2003, and the St. Jakob-Park football stadium from Herzog & de Meuron are two of the most recent architectural highlights in Basel. The new Novartis Campus has been realised since 2001 under the direction of a renowned team of architects including Tadao Ando, David Chipperfield, Diener & Diener, Frank O. Gehry, Adolf Krischanitz, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Peter Märkli, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SAANA office), Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura. The Exhibition Centre in Basel will also undergo extensive modernisation up to 2013 following the plans drawn up by Herzog & de Meuron. The same architect’s office is already working on the construction of a 178-metre high office tower for Roche in Kleinbasel.
Swiss Museum of Architecture
Basel’s claim to fame as an accessible and permanent open-air exhibition of high-quality and exemplary architecture is justified and recognized by the many quality architects working here. In light of this, it hardly comes as a surprise that the Swiss Museum of Architecture is at home in Basel, where changing exhibits of international and Swiss architecture are on display. Over the course of time the museum, with
its varied activities, has established itself as a highly regarded cultural institution, a strong voice within a growing public discussion about architecture.