Natural History Museum and Cantonal Archives, Basel
International Competition

with Diller Scofidio + Renfro (lead architect)

Client: Canton of Basel-Stadt
Location: Vogesenplatz, Basel
Date: 2014

The international competition for the consolidation of the Natural History Museum and Cantonal Archives of Basel-Stadt demanded an urban-spatial solution in order to house both institutions under one roof. Under the leadership of Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects in New York, Nau2 was able to make substantial conceptual and organizational contributions to the project.

Despite all the differences in their programs, the two institutions have one common goal: the preservation and accessibility of their collections. Often relegated to underground rooms or remote locations, such programs frequently indicate a clear separation of limited public-domain material and an extensive collection whose access is strictly reserved for personnel only. The project aims to bring the invisible to light, showing and contrasting both archives – the documents of the Cantonal Archives and the natural specimens of the Natural History Museum – in a dramatic public space. This vertical Archive Hall is the heart of the new building and serves as both the entrance hall and the backbone for the organization of the spatial program. It enables a tangible convergence of institutions yet equally acts as a place of delimitation, where the paths of visitors to the respective institutions separate.

The new building seeks to continue the recent successful urban development around the Vogesenplatz and completes the western portion of this new public space by binding together previously isolated urban areas. The building’s roof terraces were designed to provide inviting visual connections with neighboring public spaces. A thematic sequence of historical plantings evolves over the continuous roof surface, offering rich landscapes in an otherwise dry, highly industrialized context.

Project Partners:
– Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York
– DGJ Architects & Landscapes, The Hague
– Transsolar Klima Engineering, New York
– WMM Ingenieure AG, Münchenstein
– GSG Projekt Partner AG, Basel

© Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York