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9 December 2020 Comments (0) Architecture, Environment, Other, Real Estate

Basel: learning and shopping in one place?

A first in Switzerland (and probably elsewhere too): the first school to be built on the roof of a shopping centre. The most visible sign of an ambitious and mixed masterplan.

The competition was launched by the Canton of Basel, in collaboration with two foundations. The Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron was responsible for the realisation of this premiere, an urban innovation that aims to be an example of urban densification, but also the illustration of the mix of social and functional uses that agglomerations can develop in new neighbourhoods.

The 600-student school on top of the MParc Dreispitz shopping centre, as well as the multi-purpose gymnasium adjacent to the school, will be open to sports clubs and local associations in the evenings. The gardens and outdoor spaces located on the roof of the new construction will also be accessible to local residents. A way to pool spaces and no longer limit them to single use.

Bale © Herzog & de Meuron

Bale © Herzog & de Meuron

Increasing both density and green space

The designers managed to solve this contradiction: both increasing the density of a neighbourhood but also managing to develop spacious green spaces for the benefit of its inhabitants. A Swiss law obliges urban planners to densify urban centres and curtail their extension in terms of area. This urban bias induces the presence of good public transport, but also the right balance between spaces dedicated to private life and those dedicated to working. The Herzog & de Meuron firm worked upwards by proposing three elegant towers, surrounded by a perimeter of lower buildings and vast green spaces.

The creation of this school on the roof is the final in an ambitious masterplan for Dreispitz Nord. This former customs depot will become a new mixed neighbourhood that will become part of the city centre of Basel and will eventually include 800 apartments, two public green spaces, shops, a community centre and catering outlets.

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