Novartis's New Media Facade

John Hill
26. maio 2022
Photo © Laurits Jensen

The Novartis Campus is home to a collection of buildings by famous architects, including David Chipperfield, Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Tadao Ando, but until now none of them have been accessible to the public, earning it the "forbidden city" label. In line with The Spheres at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle and other companies building public-facing structures with architectural merit, the Swiss pharmaceutical corporation has unveiled the Novartis Pavillon. The donut-shaped building designed by Milan's AMDL CIRCLE, led by Michele De Lucchi, is home to the Wonders of Medicine exhibition, a café, and flexible spaces for learning, meetings, and events. But it is the outer skin, described below in photographs and videos, that merits the most attention.

The Novartis Pavillon is located in the southeastern corner of the Novartis Campus, steps from a promenade along the Rhine and Dreirosenbrücke, a bridge over the river. (Photo © iart)
The donut-shaped building sits in the center of the park, which was designed by Vogt Landschaftsarchitekt, who previously designed various landscapes across the Novartis Campus. One path leads to the building's entrance while another literally continues beneath the structure and through its central green space. (Photo © iart)
The pavilion's facade, which displays moving text during the day, was designed by AMDL CIRCLE and then further designed and engineered in collaboration with Basel's iart – studio for media architectures. (Photo © Laurits Jensen)
After sunset, the facade, made from organic photovoltaics combined with LEDs, is the setting for contributions by three media facade artists: Daniel Canogar, Esther Hunziker, and Semiconductor (duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt). (Photo © iart)
The media artworks were inspired by the shapes and colors of cells and molecules, aligning them with the work of Novartis, the exhibition inside the building, and the building itself, whose form was supposedly also inspired by cells. (Photo © Laurits Jensen)
The media facade wraps the circular building and smoothly continues over the laminated wood structure at the top of the building. (Drawing © AMDL CIRCLE; Photo © Laurits Jensen)
The facade features, per iart, "a total of 10,000 diamond-shaped organic photovoltaic panels with 30,000 embedded LEDs." (Drawing © AMDL CIRCLE; Photo © Laurits Jensen)

A short film by iart showing the completed Novartis Pavillion and its media facade displays:


A longer film by iart showing the making of the media facade for the Novartis Pavillion:

Project: Novartis Pavillon, 2022
Location: Novartis Campus, Basel, Switzerland
Client: Novartis AG
Design Architects: AMDL CIRCLE and Michele De Lucchi
  • Project Architect: Nicholas Bewick
  • Project Team: Anna Schiaretti, Guido Tarantola, Greta Rosset, Francesco Garofoli, Elena Naldi
Executive Architect and Construction Supervision: Blaser Architekten AG
  • General Planner Team: Christian W. Blaser, Sonja Proksch, Lisa Lo, Daniel Mischler, Pavel Popov; Structural Engineering: Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure AG; HVAC: Herrmann & Partner; Electrical: Edeco AG; Facade: Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG; Sanitary: Locher AG; Building Physics: Ehrsam Beurret Partner AG; Fire Safety: Gruner AG
Wonders of Medicine Exhibition Design: Atelier Brückner
Media Facade & Exhibition Technical Development: iart – studio for media architectures
Media Facade Curation: Sabine Himmelsbach, HEK (House of Electronic Arts)
Media Facade Artists: Daniel Canogar, Esther Hunziker, Semiconductor
Landscape Design: Vogt Landschaftsarchitekt

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