Laboratory Building

The research and production site in Basel for the pharmaceutical company Novartis has been transformed and extended into a new campus. The masterplan for the area, situated between the Rhine and the French border, was developed by the architect Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani. The overall project comprises office buildings as well as research and production facilities.

Laboratory Building

The research and production site in Basel for the pharmaceutical company Novartis has been transformed and extended into a new campus. The masterplan for the area, situated between the Rhine and the French border, was developed by the architect Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani. The overall project comprises office buildings as well as research and production facilities.

The practice was responsible for a five-storey laboratory building located on Fabrikstraße, the principal axis on the new campus. The building commands a central position on the intersection with the east-west axis, which leads towards the Rhine. The footprint of the building, the overall building height and the height of the ground floor were fixed within the masterplan. Envisioned as a ‘laboratory of the future’, the building had to take into consideration flexibility for workspaces, both shared and temporary, and the fluidity of movement between experiment areas and computer desks. A central open courtyard facing Fabrikstraße will be framed on three sides by the deep building to the south along with two more slender elements to the north and the east that are yet to be constructed. The east element will have a four-column deep arcade at ground-floor level and will be open, creating vistas from the square to the river. Introducing this arcade to the square will continue the recurring colonnade of the neighbouring buildings along Fabrikstraße. A restaurant located on the ground floor adds to the urban character of the project.

The façade provides the supporting structure, together with two building cores and concrete beams. These beams, within which technical services are integrated, span a total of twenty-seven metres, allowing for a column-free floor plan. This spatial configuration offers flexibility with which to explore new laboratory concepts. The external structure is made of precast concrete units with faceted columns. The faceting is varied in finish and orientation and can be smooth or rough. The depth of the column’s projected shadow depends on the orientation of the faceting, lending the elevation a figurative presence. Continuous room-height glazing placed within this external grid provides ample daylight for all the workspaces. A sculptural staircase designed by Ross Lovegrove connects the three laboratory floors to an office level on the top floor, which is also a flexible space. On this floor, all of the offices are placed around an open garden courtyard which contains the permanent installation Molecular (BASEL) by the late Serge Spitzer.

Date:
2006-2010
Gross floor area:
11,600 m²
Client:
Novartis Pharma AG
Architect:
David Chipperfield Architects, Berlin
Partners:
Alexander Schwarz, Harald Müller
Project architects:
Christian Helfrich, Robert Westphal
Contact architect:
Burckhardt + Partner AG
Landscape architect:
Wirtz International N.V.
Structural engineer:
Walt + Galmarini AG
Services engineer:
gb consult AG – Design, Fact GmbH – Construction documentation
Façade consultant:
gkp Fassadentechnik AG
Site supervision:
Burckhardt + Partner AG
Art installation:
Serge Spitzer, Molecular (BASEL), 2002–2008, Permanent installation Novartis Campus, Basel
Design of staircase:
Ross Lovegrove
Photography:
Ulrich Schwarz, Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects