Museum of cultures

Basel, Switzerland
Photo © Atelier Fontana
Photo © ZPF Ingenieure
Photo © Matthias Frei
Photo © ZPF Ingenieure
Photo © ZPF Ingenieure
ZPF Ingenieure
Münsterplatz 20, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
1M - 100M
1-5 Stories
Stiftung Museum der Kulöturen und Kanton BS
Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland

Melchior Berri's 1849 classicist structure was the first building to be constructed as a museum in German-speaking Switzerland and was a major intervention on the hill Münsterhügel at the time. When the collection in the so-called “Universal Museum” had grown considerably, the extension on the courtyard side was realised in 1917 by architects Vischer & Söhne. These different buildings have now been completely refurbished, made earthquake-resistant and given a new infrastructure. The museum can now be reached directly from Münsterplatz via the previously inaccessible rear courtyard, known as Schürhof. Part of the courtyard was lowered and an expansive, gently inclined flight of steps leads down to the new entrance.

The main building, with its stairwell wing and building-height room, was extended by the addition of a projecting, column-free top floor. The new self-supporting loft, a composite construction above the existing floor, sits on top of the outer walls and serves as a supporting surface. The geometry of the top floor resembles a saw-tooth roof with irregular ridges, but is actually a lightweight, column-free space frame. The expressive space provides a surprising contrast to the sedate rectangular galleries on the floors below. The roof is clad in blackish-green hexagonal ceramic tiles. The new facade opening on the entrance level is made possible by a supporting beam, the load of which is transferred by the existing pillars and the new composite columns.

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