A Tour of Basel's Modern Architectural Landmarks

Basel's skyline| © Patrik Tschudin/ Flickr
Basel's skyline| © Patrik Tschudin/ Flickr
Photo of Sean Mowbray
22 August 2017

Basel is a famously artsy city. It’s home to world renowned art exhibitions and museums, so you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s got some great modern architecture scattered throughout its streets and in the country beyond. Embark on a tour of the modern architecture that you must see in Basel.

Biz Building

Map View
Start off the tour at the Biz Building, the impressive office space that was originally built for Swiss banking giant UBS. Constructed out of two different coloured stones, one semi-circular part sits on top of a granite grey block, its style is the work of Ticino native Mario Botta. Now, the building is home to the Bank für Internationalen Zahlungsausgleich.

Vitra Design Museum

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Ordrupgaard Extension Museum
Ordrupgaard Extension Museum | © Flickr
A short trip out of Basel takes you to the German town of Weil am Rhein, home to the Vitra Design Museum. The elaborate building, with its sharp edges and sweeping, curved whitewashed walls was designed by Californian Frank Gehry and is a window into what lies within.


Building, Library, Museum
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Goetheanum, Dornach
Goetheanum, Dornach | © Rosmarie Voegtli/ Flickr
Another short trip out of Basel takes you to the Goetheanum, an exhibition space for “spiritually dedicated people”. The building is imposing, laden with the unmistakable air of a religious site and its interior is just as interesting. Two exhibition spaces, a library and office space are within.

The Hammering Man

Back in the city centre, you can take a short walk from the Kuntmuseum to see The Hammering Man, a 13-foot workman who has been labouring away at thin air since 1989. Artist Jonathan Borofsky’s legions of giant Hammering Men have appeared in city across the world.

Aeschenplatz, Basel


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Laurenz-Stiftung Schaulager, Münchenstein
Laurenz-Stiftung Schaulager, Münchenstein | © Ruedi Walti, Basel. Photo courtesy of Schaulager®
On the outskirts of Basel, this building by designers Herzog and de Meuron is described as an “architectural prototype”, combining storage space with plenty of room for interesting exhibitions. The building’s dark and foreboding exterior is contrasted with the bright and airy interior. A short tram ride from the city centre on the no.11 line takes you to Schaulager.

Basler Messeturm

Basel’s second tallest skyscraper, the Messeturm, is a gleaming green-giant that dominates the city’s skyline and doubles as a hotel and office space. If you can get over the vertigo, you can try out a cocktail at Bar Rouge which sits on the top floor of the Messeturm and is known as the highest bar in Switzerland. A stiff drink here could be the perfect spot to round off your architecture tour.

Messeplatz, 12, Basel, +41 61 695 90 10

Roche Tower

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Roche Tower, Basel
Roche Tower, Basel | © Fred Romero/ Flickr
Best visited last on any architectural tour of Basel, lest everything else pales in comparison, the Roche Tower (also known as Building 1) is the city’s tallest building at a dizzying 178m. Built by the pharma giant Roche, it took the coveted title of Switzerland’s tallest skyscraper from Zurich’s Prime Tower when it was completed in 2015. You’ll likely see it shimmering above the rooftops long before you get close to it.

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