The research and production site in Basel for the pharmaceutical company Novartis has been transformed and extended into a new campus. The masterplan for the area, situated between the River Rhine and the French border, was developed by the architect Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani. The overall project comprises office buildings as well as research and production facilities, all designed by different architects. This project consists of a five-storey laboratory building located on Fabrikstraße, the principal artery of the new campus. The building commands a central position on the intersection with a new east-west axis leading towards the Rhine. The footprint of the building, its overall building height and the height of the ground floor were fixed within the masterplan. Envisioned as a laboratory of the future, the building had to take into consideration flexibility for shared and temporary workspaces and fluid transitions between areas for experimentation and regular workspaces. The façade, the two building cores and concrete beams provide the supporting structure. The beams span twenty-seven metres and contain technical services, allowing for a column-free floor plan. This spatial configuration offers flexibility within which new laboratory concepts may be explored. The external structure is made of precast concrete with faceted columns. The concept adopts the theme of the colonnade, a recurrent motif on the campus. The faceting varies between smooth and rough finishes, and its orientation causes differing shadows. Continuous floor-height glazing placed within this external grid provides ample daylight for all the workspaces. A restaurant is located on the ground floor, while a sculptural stair designed by Ross Lovegrove connects the three laboratory floors with a flexible office level on the top floor. All offices are placed around a roof garden, which contains the permanent installation ‘Molecular (BASEL)’, a late work by the artist Serge Spitzer

source: David Chipperfield Architects