Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
The new main Signal Tower is situated in the railroad yards at the southeast bank of the bridge, Muenchensteinerbrücke. Being as close to the street as an apartment or office building, it relates as much to the city as it does to the railroad yards. Thanks to its object-like character, the building is spatially linked to the other solitary buildings that characterize this disparate urban area.
But the new main Signal Tower is also within sight of the recently completed Signal Box 4, located in “auf dem Wolf“ in a section of the railroad yards separated from the neighborhood streets of the city. The similarity of structure and the copper strips wrapped around both buildings underscore their spatial relationship. They form a pair that could later be expanded into a group.
Now completed, Signal Box 4 has been so well optimized that it has become a prototype that can be erected, like a standardized structure, in all the urban regions of Switzerland. The use of such a similar structure throughout Switzerland would dovetail with a vision of the country as one single urban landscape.
Although the design of the main Signal Tower is the same as that of Signal Box 4, it is different in appearance due to its location on a trapezoidal, almost triangular, plot of land between the railroad tracks. The ground plan evolves from bottom to top into a rectangle. The copper strips cover the steps in the façade so that it becomes difficult to read the building‘s geometrical shape. It evokes something more organic and vulnerable, like a head or a brain, rather than a piece of technical equipment.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1998
Towards the street, the copper strips are cut off from the strip windows, taking back the monolithic character of the building and introducing a human scale.
The signal box amidst the tracks and cables in front of Basel’s main station.
With its movement, the signal box takes up the turn of the bridge in its immediate vicinity.
The signal box rises above the tracks with its increasing volume.
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