BIS site development project

The BIS is seeking to develop its headquarters site in Basel.

Currently, about 600 Basel-based BIS staff are split between the site around the Tower building, which was designed by Martin Burckhardt and opened in 1977, and the Mario Botta-designed Botta building at Aeschenplatz. In addition to the Tower, the primary site near Basel's main railway station includes four ageing and inefficient buildings.

In 2021 the BIS launched an international architectural competition to propose designs to develop its headquarters site. Participants were asked to come up with a design proposal which would replace the ageing buildings and provide a concept for modern facilities to accommodate the enlargement of global meetings and growth in activities as well as create a campus-like work environment for its staff and visitors.

A total of 11 high-quality designs were contributed to the competition. In December 2022, the BIS announced that the 11-member jury unanimously selected a collaboration by the firms ELEMENTAL (Santiago, Chile) and Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten (Basel, Switzerland) as the winning design.

The jury lauded the ELEMENTAL/Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten design for its innovative and sustainable design. The architects proposed a second tower on the BIS headquarters site which would connect to the existing BIS Tower designed by Martin Burckhardt. The jury felt that the proposed design has potential to enrich the growing skyline of Basel and responds well to planned development in the surrounding neighbourhood. The proposal provides an elegant contrast to the architectural expression of the existing Tower and complements the footprint of Burckhardt's original design. The design was also appreciated for its extensive use of timber and its "forest"-like façade.

The BIS is grateful to the members of the jury and all of the firms who participated in the competition. If the BIS decides to proceed with the winning design at a later stage, there will be a separate planning and approval process.

Visualisations of the winning design are provided with courtesy of ELEMENTAL and Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten.

  • Prof Sacha Menz (Chair) – architect based in Zurich and professor at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
  • Beat Aeberhard – Head of Urban Development and Architecture of the Canton of Basel-Stadt
  • Louisa Hutton – architect based in Berlin and former lecturer/visiting professor at Architectural Association in London and Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Débora Mesa Molina – architect based in Madrid and Boston and professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Prof Dr Ing Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani – architect based in Milan and Zurich and visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Prof Dr Christophe Girot – landscape architect based in Zurich and professor at ETH Zurich
  • Thomas Jordan – member of the BIS Board of Directors and the Board's Administrative Committee, Chair of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank
  • Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva – Deputy General Manager, BIS
  • Monica Ellis – Secretary General, BIS
  • Bertrand Legros – Deputy Secretary General, BIS
  • Véronique Neiss – Head of Real Estate and Facility Management, BIS

Latest updates

  • 14 December 2022: BIS announces outcome of architectural competition to develop designs to enhance its Basel headquarters site. See press release (English, German, Spanish).
  • 24 September 2021: The BIS has invited a shortlist of applicants to participate in the architectural project study. This phase is expected to last until the second half of 2022.
  • 21 June 2021: BIS calls for expressions of interest to develop Basel headquarters. See press release.

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