Basel, 2012. International selected Competition

Architecture: Caruso St John Architects , London/Zürich.
Ingenieure: Conzett Bronzini Gartman, Chur.
Client: Zoo Basel

The project competition of the Basel Zoo takes place in Heuwaage, where  it will be allocated a large aquarium in centre of Basel City . This will be devoted to the fascinating ways of life and resources of the oceans. The house itself is to be used sparingly and sustainably by solar and other renewable energy. The Ozeanium should create a content-based and spatial link between urban inner-city life and the calm green oasis of Basel Zoo in the Heuwaage area.

Is the sea so far away?
The sediments deposited on the edge of the former Tethys Sea reveal a sea beach near the alps, and  the mountain Jura appears as an scenario inhabited by giant animals around 199 million years ago, during the  jurassic time.
Thus, the design of the new Oceanarium intends to brings back not only the memory of the last marine time, but also of the marine animals. As analogy, one can read the building as a giant dinosaur with its head above water and the body submerged in the sea of former times.
The relationship between the city of Basel and water has always been tight. The Rhine played a mayor role in the development of the city, even during roman times when the river was a common maritime route to get to he ocean. Nowadays the small river Birsig, is covered over most of its course in Basel before it enters the Rhine, and has few hundred meters around the city zoo where it can be seen openly, situation that will animate the upcoming Oceanarium.
The strong and evident connection to water is reflected in different ways. The glimmering paving of the square resembles the scaly skin of a dinosaur by combining a concrete surface with embedded pieces of limestone as a fossil, which together become a dynamic water collection system that brings alive the particular texture that celebrates the space. In addition, some mosaics on the walls of ‘grottos’ or artificial caverns lead you into the open galleries receiving the visitor to the fantastic world of aquatic animals and plants.

Basel Ozeanium

Competition 2012