Leisure & Culture

New Pavilion St. Johanns Park, Basel

This pavilion on the bank of the Rhine in Basel provides a roof for a wide range of activities conducted by the neighborhood's heterogeneous multi-cultural population. It is a meeting point in St. Johanns Park for people of different origins. By means of its simplicity, lightness and transparency, the building intentionally accentuates the park and the river landscape as dominant features. The reduced selection of materials and the fact that the structure has only one floor emphasize this intention. The form is derived from the defined perimeter and its implementation responds strongly to the existing tree structure. All rooms have contact with the outdoors. The connection to the neighborhood and the park is not sought by the building as much as by natural routes and redesigned entrances from the city into the park. 

The structure's three wings clearly represent the program's key functions: the cafeteria with a view of the river and a spacious exposed terrace situated in front of it; the foyer with the neighborhood community office oriented toward the St. Johann district and the “Spilruum” facility for children; embedded in the forest-like copse, with its play-oriented clearings as places of discovery. On the one hand, the functions are thus clearly separated from each other, while on the other hand, the flowing spatial sequence enables fascinating views and insights within the figure and a strong relationship with the park. 

The architectural expression is not autonomous and instead consistently pursues the goal of natural interlocking with its environment. The three entrances are logically developed by the vivid “impressions” of the figure. Closed and open areas are situated next to each other like honeycomb cells. Solely by means of the positioning of the cores (on the facade or detached from it) and their sculptural implementation, a differentiated zoning of the interior space develops. The closed core zones contain the ancillary functions. 

The pavilion's outer skin is made of wooden spruce supports which, divided in an alternating three-module rhythm (60-90-120cm), give shape to light and shadow, as well as representing an analogy to the trees via their natural material. The roof, as a fifth facade, is extensively greened. The supporting structure consists of prefabricated wooden elements, which can also be experienced on the inside, due to their cladding made of OSB or three-ply panels. The predominantly warm wooden surfaces are confronted by the rough, stony, hard concrete flooring. With its flowing transition to the outdoor area, this connects the building with the park. The building services equipment is visible. The arrangement of ceiling lighting and ceiling installations emulates the evolved branch structure of the trees. 

Canton Basel-Town
Christoph Merian Stiftung, Basel 

Period of time
2007 – 2012

Architecture, general planning, realization 

Adriano Biondo