Herzog & de Meuron

The new building is located in the middle of a group of small-scale village like buildings without any remarkable architectural qualities. However surrounding gardens, however, with their hedges and trees, offer a wonderful environment for a transparent architecture relating to the inside and outside space.

Instead of a multistory volume that would dominate the architectural landscape, we chose a low polygonal installation that fits into Ricola’s garden area like a pavilion. We wanted an architecture in which outer form and geometry did not immediately reveal themselves. One which, thanks to its turned-back façades, dissolves into single pieces. Each piece has the distinct characteristic of either surrounding, reflecting or projecting far into the building’s interior a special view into the garden.

The deep cantilevered roof can be understood as a symbol for the strategy utilized here of melding nature and architecture. Roof beams are made of a special plastic having variable give for assimilation to changing temperatures and the changing weight of rain or snow. Plants, woven among the beams, form a hybrid natural-artificial construction which lends the building an ever-changing appearance in accordance with the passing seasons. Ivy provides for basic green throughout the year between the beams. The leaves of other plants – wild wine, for example – are only visible during the summer months and help to prevent too much sun from penetrating the glass façades.

Inside, the building is planned as a single, cohesive, open space that offers, for the most part, a transparent office landscape on two floors. The large staircase in the middle of the building is simultaneously a connecting element, meeting place, and auditorium. The building is equipped with façades of pure glass throughout, with a few wall-height sliding doors. Thus actual spatial delineation is not static and may be changed according to need. Curtains mounted on three parallel runners allow users differing variables as to color, transparency, and view.

Like its landscape design, the building’s textile equipment is indivisibly bound to its architectural concept. In no way is it a more or less coincidental decorative element. Its conception demanded early and close cooperation with the landscape architect Kienast Vogt and with artists Rosmarie Trockel and Adrian Schiess.

The new marketing building is the third important work by Herzog & de Meuron for Ricola. Both previous buildings, a warehouse in Laufen (1986) and a production building in Mulhouse-Brunnstatt (1993) found worldwide acclaim in architectural circles. In the new glass marketing building, plants and constructional elements are conjoined in a new way to create the architectural background for a very open building type for office spaces intended to improve and facilitate spontaneous internal communication. Both landscape architecture and artists’ cooperation are important components in the architects’ design strategy.

Herzog & de Meuron, 1999



Project Team


In Collaboration With
Adrian Schiess, Mouans-Sartoux, France; Rosemarie Trockel, Köln, Germany
Ricola AG, Laufen, Switzerland
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Construction Management: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: ZPF Ingenieure AG, Basel, Switzerland
HVAC Engineering: Waldhauser Haustechnik, Basel, Switzerland
Plumbing Engineering: Bogenschütz AG, Basel, Switzerland
Electrical Engineering: Herzog Kull Group, Basel, Switzerland
Landscape Design: Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, Zurich, Switzerland
Specialist / Consulting
Facade Consulting: Hirsch Metallbau AG, Biel, Switzerland
Building Data
Site Area: 15'134 sqft, 1'406 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 12'378 sqft, 1'150 sqm
Footprint: 6'189 sqft, 575 sqm
Gross volume (GV): 201'470 cbft, 5'705 cbm


Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): “Arquitectura Viva. Herzog & de Meuron 1978-2007.” 2nd rev. ed. Madrid, Arquitectura Viva, 2007.

Nobuyuki Yoshida (Ed.): “Architecture and Urbanism. Herzog & de Meuron 1978-2002.” Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co., Ltd., 02.2002.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): “El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 1998-2002. La Naturaleza del Artificio. The Nature of Artifice.” Vol. No. 109/110, Madrid, El Croquis, 2002.

Herzog & de Meuron. Natural History.” Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. “Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind.” Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. 2nd ed. Baden, Lars Müller, 2005.

Jacques Herzog, Sabine Kraft, Christian Kühn: “Mit allen Sinnen spüren. Jacques Herzog im Gespräch mit Sabine Kraft und Christian Kühn.” In: Sabine Kraft, Nikolaus Kuhnert, Günther Uhlig (Eds.). Archplus. Zeitschrift für Architektur und Städtebau. Architektur natürlich. Vol. No. 142, Aachen, ARCH+ Verlag GmbH, 07.1998. pp. 32-39.