Basel is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting destinations when it comes to planning a trip to discover a region with good architecture. This Swiss city and its immediate surroundings have numerous outstanding pieces of work, both in terms of design and execution. Herzog & de Meuron were behind a project on the banks of the River Wiese that is a magnificent exponent of this and that is reminiscent of the old baths that once stood on the riverbank, very near its confluence with the Rhine.
The Swiss studio decided to abandon the concept of a conventional pool in favor of a project closer to nature, with the help of biological filters. This approach was was publicly discussed by the citizens of Riehen and officially approved by a municipal vote. The citizens now have a large lake with planted filtering cascades, an adaptation of the local baadi, traditional wooden Rhine-side baths.
A large wooden wall on one side shelters a solarium 200 meters long with recliners, whilst the other side (on the side of the river) is open, hemmed in by a bushy hedge. There is just one small building that houses the entrance and the supporting facilities.
The heart of the project is the bathing pond in the middle of the site. The biological water treatment basins are embedded in the sloping landscape on the opposite side of the road. In terms of ecological cleaning capacity, the baths are designed to accommodate 2,000 bathers per day. Together with various leisure facilities found here, they form a recreational area open all year round to the local population.
Photo: Iwan Baan