Messe Basel – New Hall
Basel, Switzerland
Project 2004-2012, realization 2010-2013

Urban and entrepreneurial planning
The concentration of exhibition halls around the Messeplatz (Exhibition Square) is the key entrepreneurial aim of the Messe Basel leadership in its further development. Building the Messe Tower and replacing Hall 1 with a highly modern building and optimum exhibition areas were the first components in this strategy, followed by the continuing construction of new halls.

This concentration of exhibition centre activities is also an important urban planning matter for the development of the surrounding Kleinbasel neighbourhood, aimed at regaining outlying exhibition spaces on the present Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) area for apartments, offices and small businesses while simultaneously upgrading the Messeplatz as a focal point in Kleinbasel.

Necessary demolition
Achieving this entrepreneurial as well as urban planning aim of congegrating the Messe and at the same time retaining the important Watch and Jewellery Fair within Basel, required the replacement of two halls on the Messeplatz (Hall 1 at the front and Hall 3). These halls no longer fulfilled modern exhibition requirements in terms of ceiling heights, column spacing or load bearing capacity of the floors. It was also important that all halls be interconnected to ensure flexibility for various events, and that nearby car parking facilities should be retained.

Necessary construction
Fulfilling exhibition requirements for large volumes and uninterrupted floor areas, the New Hall is a three-storey extension of Hall 1 along the Riehenring. To provide indoor connection to all exhibition halls, the new building bridges over the Messeplatz and creates a covered public space, perhaps comparable to a railway station concourse or indoor market, realized in a modern design language. This key architectural and urban planning element defines the south end of the Messeplatz and is illuminated from above by a generous circular opening.

Planned for many uses and events that will take place during and between exhibitions, and featuring restaurants and shops intended for a mix of international, local, exhibition, and public visitors, we have named this new outdoor hall the City Lounge. Open at all times, the City Lounge not only defines the entrance to the fair spaces, but will be a focal point of public life on Clarastrasse (the main shopping street in Kleinbasel) and will significantly enliven the street culture around the Messeplatz. For example, during the autumn fair the partially covered hall will create a fascinating atmosphere with smaller booths and aisles open to, yet protected, from the elements.

City Lounge and Messeplatz
With the addition of the New Hall, current activities on the Messeplatz will continue, but they will take place in a space with different proportions. What was once an elongated rectangle that more or less ran into Clarastrasse without noticeable demarcation is now almost a square with clearer urban definition.

A new “lane” between the New Hall and existing multi-storey car park offers better access to Messeplatz for pedestrians. Connecting east to the adjacent residential area around Riehenstrasse and Peter Rot-Strasse, this “lane” is a continuation of Isteinerstrasse and creates a new east-west link which integrates the Messeplatz into the quarter. Service and supply to the New Hall will be mainly through an underground route, thus reducing truck traffic on Riehenstrasse.

The Messeplatz is a pedestrian and cyclist precinct. Together with the adjacent Rosentalanlage, the Messeplatz will be the main outdoor space for the many residents of the Messe district. The green belt along the Messeplatz-Wettsteinplatz link will be enhanced by more trees on Riehenstrasse to visually connect the exhibition centre to the Rosentalanlage.

What is an exhibition hall today?

Ideally, exhibition halls should be as spacious as possible, rectangular in layout, with wide spans and ceiling heights of around 10 m, in order to provide the flexibility and versatility required for exhibition purposes. In recent years, the demand for such generous spaces has further increased.

Taking Baselworld as a leading example of a modern international exhibition, where the halls are animated by the individual exhibitors’ stands, the goods on display and the crowds of visitors, the question of an exhibition hall architecture does not seem to be a primary demand. Architecture is only perceptible in public areas and stairways and only there can an interface with the wider public landscape of the city emerge. The best illustration of this is the round courtyard in Hall 2. Regrettably, this courtyard is only accessible during exhibitions as it is undoubtedly one of the most attractive public areas in Basel and, especially during Art Basel in June, one of the most successful urban meeting points in the whole of Switzerland. The City Lounge aims to turn the inward-looking architecture of the round courtyard towards the outside and to make it accessible all year round.

How do we design an exhibition hall on the outside?
Viewed from the outside, exhibition halls are actually nothing more than a stack of big boxes. They require very few windows and architectural distinctions are deemed as impractical restrictions on interior flexibility. The architectural results are generally composed of vast, monotonous facades of brick as in Hall 2 or glass for Hall 1. To avoid this repetitive sameness, we took a different approach for the New Hall.

The New Hall features three exhibition levels. The entrance level, the lowest, is at grade with the street and outdoor square, permitting a natural and casual coming-and-going. Ground floor entrances seamlessly link the City Lounge to the existing Hall 1, former Hall 3, the new event space for 2’500 spectators, and a number of shops, bars and restaurants in the foyers. The dynamic sweep of the street level facade reacts to the flows of people and corresponds to the space required at the tram stop and entrances to the exhibition centre and Event Hall. Here, large expanses of glass create the spatial transparency both necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the openness envisioned for the exhibition hall complex and the enlivening of public urban life. This vitalisation and acceptance will be crucial to the long-term success of the "Messezentrum in the city" concept.

Above the ground will be two exhibition floors. To avoid the “big box” effect, the two upper volumes are offset from each other as separate entities, which indeed they are! The New Hall therefore consists of three individual elements, one on top of the other, each projecting over the street in varying degrees, and allowing them to respond to different urban conditions. From each point of view – whether from the Riehenring, Messeplatz or Riehenstrasse – the New Hall offers a different perception every time and thus avoids the monotony of uniform facade lines.

This constant architectural variation is reinforced, paradoxically, by applying a homogeneous material (aluminum) over all exterior surfaces. The facade of articulated twisting bands strategically modulates and reduces the scale of the large exhibition volumes to its surroundings. This is not simply a decorative element but a practical means to regulate the fall of natural light on adjacent properties and to frame specific views from individual spaces, primarily the social areas above the City Lounge, towards the public life of the city.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2013


Herzog & de Meuron Team:
Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Stefan Marbach (Partner in Charge), Wolfgang Hardt

Project Team: Tobias Winkelmann (Associate, Project Director), Michael Schmidt (Associate), Stefan Hörner (Associate), Roger Huwyler (Project Architect), Roland Schreiber (Project Architect)

Philip Albrecht, Israel Alvarez Matamoros, Michael Bär, Axel Beck, Marcelo Bernardi, Benito Blanco Avellano, Alexander Bürgi, Amparo Casaní Arazo, Estelle Chan, Massimo Corradi (Digital Technology Group), Francisco de Freitas, Dorothee Dietz, Francis Fawcett, Oliver Franke, Eik Frenzel, Johann Gruber, Sabine Harmuth, Oke Hauser, Volker Helm (Digital Technology Group), Wilhelm Heusser, Yuko Himeno, Ursula Hürzeler, Debora Hummel, Thorsten Kemper, Oxana Krause, Sophia Lau, Christian Laviola, Corinne Lopez, Xiaojing Lu, Ulrik Mathiasson, Katja Mezger, Marcello Nasso, Benjamin Olschner, David Palussiere, Dirk Peters, Louis Putot, Susanna Rahm, Holger Rasch, Sebastian Reinhardt, Nina Andrea Renner, Steffen Riegas (Digital Technology Group), Kathrin Riemenschnitter, Nathalie Rinne, Georg Sebastian Schmid, Katja Schneider, Katharina Schwiete, Jochen Seelos, Jan Skuratowski, Johannes Staudt, Matthias Stücheli, Nicolas Venzin, Manuel Villanueva, Thomas von Girsewald, Miriam Waltz, Romy Weber, Léonie Wenz, Gerd Wetzel, Douwe Wieërs, Thomas Wyssen, Claudia Winkelmann, Camillo Zanardini, Christian Zerreis

MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd., Basel, Switzerland

Client Representative: Peter Holenstein (MCH), Edgar Jenny (MCH)

Planning (General Planer Phase):
General Planning: ARGE GP, Herzog & de Meuron / Burckhardt + Partner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Cost Consultant: Burckhardt + Partner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Electrical, HVAC Engineering: ARGE Scherler AG / Aicher de Martin Zweng AG / Herzog Kull Group AG, Basel, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: ARGE Gruner AG / Ernst Basler + Partner AG, Basel / Zürich, Switzerland
Building Physics: Zimmermann + Leuthe GmbH, Aetigkofen, Switzerland
Facade Engineering: Neuschwander + Morf AG, Basel, Switzerland
Lighting Consultant: Bartenbach LichtLabor GmbH, Aldrans, Austria
Security Consultant: Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Traffic Consultant: Rapp Infra AG, Basel, Switzerland
Fire Protection: Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland

Planning ( General Contractor Phase)
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd., Basel, Switzerland
Electrical Engineering: Herzog Kull Group AG, Aarau/Zurich, Switzerland
HVAC Engineering: Lippuner Energie- und Metallbautechnik AG, Graps, Switzerland; CM Engineering: GmbH, Dübendorf, Switzerland; Plodeck Kurt ECS, Neftenbach, Switzerland
Landscape Design: Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, Zurich, Switzerland
Mechanical Engineering: Lippuner Energie- und Metallbautechnik AG, Graps, Switzerland
Plumbing Engineering: Rechberger Huustechnik AG, Zurich, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: Ribi + Blum AG Ingenieure und Planer, Romanshorn, Switzerland; Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland; WITO Engineering GmbH, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Sustainability Consultant: Ingenieurbüro Stefan Graf, Basel, Switzerland
Design & Build Contractor: HRS Real Estate AG, Frauenfeld, Switzerland

Consulting (General Contractor Phase):
Building Physics: Zimmermann + Leuthe GmbH, Aetigkofen, Switzerland
Civil Engineering: Burger & Partner Ingenieure AG, Basel, Switzerland
Facade Engineering: Feroplan Engineering AG, Chur, Switzerland
Geotechnical Consultant: Pfirter + Nyfeler Partner AG, Muttenz, Switzerland
Lighting Consultant: Bartenbach LichtLabor GmbH, Aldrans, Austria
Security, Fire Protection Consultant: Gruner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Traffic Consultant: Rapp Infra AG, Basel, Switzerland
Door Coordinator: Brütsch Elektronik AG, Uhwiesen, Switzerland
Media Concept: Iart Interactive AG, Basel, Switzerland
Structural Survey, Survey: Gruner AG Ingenieure und Planer, Basel, Switzerland
Technical Planner Gastronomy: Axet gmbh, Embrach, Switzerland

Building Data:

Site Area: 26'700sqm / 287'397sqft 
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 83'297sqm / 896'602sqft
Footprint: 9'328sqm / 100'406sqft 
Building Dimensions: Length 217m / 712ft; Width 90m / 295ft; Height 32m / 104ft
Number of Levels: 3
Usable Floor Area: 40'305sqm, 48,4 %
Circulation Area: 17'441sqm, 20.9 %
Ancillary Area for Services: 12'990sqm, 17.3 %
Area Ancillary to Main Function: 4'334sqm, 5.8 %
Maximum Floor Load: 1000 - 1200 kg/sqm
U-Value Facade: 0,2187 W/(m2K)

Use / Function:
Exhibition hall: 
- Multi story exhibition hall (fair ground)
- City Lounge - partially covered city square
- Additional restaurant, bistro and lounge uses to stimulate the surrounding urban areas
- Multifunctional Event Hall for up to 2'500 visitors


Jacques Herzog, Hans Ulrich Obrist: Portrait Urbain, Jacques Herzog en conversation avec Hans Ulrich Obrist.
In: Marie-José Susskind-Jalou (Ed.) L’Officiel Art, septembre, octobre, novembre 2013. Paris, Les Éditions Jalou, 2013. pp. 224-229.

Anne Fournier, Jacques Herzog: Lumière urbain. In: Le Temps SA (Ed.). Le Temps. Vol. No. 4593, Geneva, Le Temps S.A., 01.05.2013. p. 24.

Chris Foges: The Sky's the Limit. In: Cathleen McGuigan (Ed.). Architectural Record. New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies, 05.2013. pp. 76-81.

Werner Huber: Ein kräftiger Bau nimmt Platz. Herzog & de Meurons Neubau bringt einen neuen Massstab ins Basler Messegelände. Zu gross für die Stadt? Eine Annäherung. In: Köbi Gantenbein (Ed.). Hochparterre. Zeitschrift für Architektur und Design. Vol. No. 4, Zurich, Hochparterre AG, 04.2013. pp. 32-34.

Christoph Heim: Eine Fata Morgana für die Messe. Herzog & de Meuron zeigen sich einmal mehr als Meister der Fassade: Eine architektonische Annäherung. In: Markus Somm (Ed.). Basler Zeitung. Die Zeitung der Nordwestschweiz. Vol. No. 39, Basel, Basler Zeitung, 09.02.2013. p. 23.

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): Arquitectura Viva Monografías. Herzog & de Meuron 2005-2013.
Vol. No. 157/158, Madrid, Arquitectura Viva SL, 09.2012.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia; Richard Levene (Eds.): El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 2005-2010. Programme, Monument, Landscape. Programa, Monumento, Paisaje.
Vol. No. 152/153, Madrid, El Croquis, 2010.

Jacques Herzog, Christoph Heim: Die Messe als Stadt in der Stadt. Jacques Herzog über das neue Messezentrum, das im Jahr 2012 fertig sein soll.
In: Kulturmagazin. Supplement: Basler Zeitung. Vol. No. 130, Basel, Basler Zeitung Medien, 07.06.2007. pp. 4-7.

Hubertus Adam: Aktuelles von Herzog & de Meuron. Häuser und Türme.
In: Archithese. Internationale Zeitschrift und Schriftenreihe für Architektur. Sulgen, Niggli, 01.2007. pp. 78-83.

Martin Josephy: Der Messeplatz als Stadt-Lounge?. Messe 2012. Anmerkungen zum Erweiterungsprojekt für die Messe in Basel von Herzog & de Meuron.
In: Nott Caviezel (Ed.). Werk, Bauen + Wohnen. Extraterritorial. Vol. No. 11, Zurich, Werk AG, 11.2006. pp. 58-60.