Housing and Commercial Development in Basle
New or rediscovered materials have a great fascination for architects. After the first small-scale projects in which insulating concrete enjoyed something of a renaissance, it will be interesting to see what future this material will have in larger schemes. In the Volta Centre in Basle, it has been used in a sculpturally articulated structure that forms the heart of a newly designed residential neighbourhood where former harbour and industrial areas have been removed. With its triangular footprint, the centre exploits the available space to a maximum. The different facades respond to the urban environment on each side. The bold front facing the station forms a striking backdrop to the public open space. The recessed plinth and shop windows make an inviting gesture, and the diagonal line at the base creates a powerful transition to the nearby Lucerne Ring bridge, which is reached via a spiralling steel staircase. From there, one has direct access to the upper level of the two-storey shopping mall in the building. The raking line of the north-west end face also lends the structure a dynamic note. The angled north facade overlooks the housing district.