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Volkshaus Basel Hotel welcomes first guests

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, 24 November 2020 – The pre-opening phase of the hotel at Volkshaus Basel starts this Friday 27 November. Embedded in a lively, central and historic location, Herzog & de Meuron’s initial project for the Volkshaus Basel opened in 2012 with renovations to the brasserie, bar, beer garden, and event spaces. 8 years on, a hotel with 45 rooms has now been completely integrated into the complex; the Volkshaus Basel revives a variety of historic uses and activates its original building as a place “for the people” at the heart of the city.

The site’s significance can be traced back to the 14th century; this corner of Kleinbasel was a melting pot of different trades and people – a hub of social, political, and cultural activities. During the late 19th century, a brewery, restaurant, and concert hall occupied the premises, until the city of Basel took over the facilities in 1905. The Volkshaus Basel was inaugurated in 1925 to house a restaurant, shop, event space, concert hall, and staff accommodations. Over the 1970s, in an attempt to update the building to meet technical standards, the complex underwent complete renovation. Subsequent adaptations for changing needs, without a holistic concept, further diminished the original fabric and spirit of the building.

Reviving the original character of the 1920s building and, simultaneously, extending and engaging with the architectural language of our initial Volkshaus renovations became the basis for the hotel’s design. With careful consideration towards the building’s past, the project restores elements including the original windows, and adds layers of simple, sensual materials to create inviting interiors. Responding to the historic building’s peculiarities, each room is individually unique yet follows two key principles: to create a light-filled yet intimate room for relaxing and sleeping as well as to conceal washroom amenities. The room entrance area, evoking motifs from the brasserie and bar, is characterized by walls in black glass and warm dark oak, punctuated with oval windows that hint at the shower and toilet embedded separately within. The rest of the room is enveloped by soft curtains and lined by a diffuse wallpaper showing public life under the trees of the Petersplatz in Basel from a 17th-century engraving. Complete with oak lounge furniture designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the bedroom is a tactile and calming retreat.
Nearly a century later, the Volkshaus Basel has revived its original character as a true mixed-use project; a city within the city with all its ingredients. At the street level, the new lobby provides a playful companion to the bar; adopting a lighter color palette to contrast the adjacent venue’s dark brown subtleties, the space functions as a gallery, shop, and event space. In this spirit, completing the project aims to revitalize the original architectural and cultural identity of the Volkshaus Basel as a vibrant meeting point within the city.