Presentation of Zaha Hadid’s Project for the Stadtcasino Basel (2005)

Presentation of Zaha Hadid’s Project for the Stadtcasino Basel (2005). September 2005.

Project information:

The façade of the old music hall and the Hans Huber Hall create the main façade for the Neues Stadt Casino along the Steinenberg. The continuation of the two buildings, highlighted by a cut or slice, allows the front surface of the new building to become cohesive whilst the new volume remains sufficiently distanced from the existing building.
Around the corner, in the main public square of Basel – the Barfuesserplatz – the situation changes with a dramatic cantilever that sets an unmistakable indication into the urban space. With a generous view underneath the cantilevering volume, we create a new urban connection from the Barfuesserplatz to the Theaterplatz with the new main entrance to the Stadt-Casino. The surface of the square flows underneath the floating volume of the new building and folds upwards over a ramp, allowing the different levels of the square to be a continuous landscape. The terraced surface of the landscape’s form, and the under-surface of the floating volume, create a generous entrance hall.
The main design feature is a homogeneous, plastic volume which is differentiated and articulated by bulging the surface, inverting it to create a new concert hall, enclosing ‘foreign bodies’ – the old music hall – and by hollowing out the volume to create the entrance hall.
The old music hall is surrounded in an L-shape by the new solidium, but set in contrast in such a way that it is possible to perceive the historical volume. Through the architectural stylistic device of an inversion in the main façade, we achieve a strong connection between the interior space and the public space of the Barfuesserplatz.
The stage of the new concert hall is designed as a large window over the Barfuesserplatz, with the view into the festively illuminated space attracting visitors to attend the concert.

Architectural history of the Stadtcasino Basel:

Initial plans for a public venue in Basel were drawn up by Melchior Berri in 1822, a young Basel architect who was just 22 at the time. The project specifications stipulated “a simple, elegant style”. The new building was not intended to be overly opulent, but nor was it to be purely functional. 

The Stadtcasino opened for business two years after the incorporation of the Stadtcasino-Gesellschaft in 1824.

The first major extension came in 1876 with the construction of the Concert Hall, followed by the Hans Huber Hall in 1904/1905. Both projects were designed by Johan Jakob Stehlin the Younger.

The “Berri Building” was entirely demolished in 1938. The main building which still stands today was re-designed by architects Willi Kehlstadt, Brodtbeck und Bohny, Bräuning, Leu, Dürig and inaugurated in late 1939.

In 2007, the local population voted against a project by architect Zaha Hadid, winner of an international architectural competition.

The Stadtcasino Basel underwent two phases of renovation in the years up to 2016, as well as other interventions such as the walling up of the windows in the Concert Hall (1964) and the installation in 1971 of the new organ behind the old façade of 1905.

The reopening of the newly extended Stadtcasino Basel was celebrated in 2020 after four years of structural alterations.

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