BIS announces outcome of architectural competition to develop designs to enhance its Basel headquarters site

Press release  | 
14 December 2022
  • The BIS announces the winner of an international architectural competition to propose designs to develop its headquarters site in Basel, Switzerland
  • Jury unanimously selected an innovative and sustainable design developed by a collaboration between ELEMENTAL (Santiago, Chile) and Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten (Basel, Switzerland)
  • Competition project sought designs to replace ageing buildings adjoining the BIS Tower and provide modern facilities to accommodate enlargement of global meetings and growth in activities and to create a campus-like work environment
  • Should the BIS decide to proceed with the design, there will be a separate project planning and approval process

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) today announced the outcome of an architectural design competition aimed at enhancing its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

The 11-member competition jury selected a collaboration by the firms ELEMENTAL (Santiago, Chile) and Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten (Basel, Switzerland) as the winning design over 10 other high-quality submissions from international teams.

Participants were asked to come up with a design proposal which would replace the ageing buildings adjoining the main BIS Tower 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.

In considering our plans for the future, we sought designs that would present concepts for modern meeting and working facilities. It is important for us that any new development on the site would be both environmentally sustainable and fit well into the Basel cityscape. The design selected by the jury helps to create a vision to bring these concepts to life.

BIS Secretary General Monica Ellis

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 as noted by the jury.

If the BIS decides to proceed with the winning design at a later stage, there will be a separate planning and approval process. The design is already compliant with the master plan approved by city authorities in 2015, which permits the BIS to build a total of up to 68,000 m² gross floor area above ground on the Tower site, including the existing Tower, which is 23,000 m2.

The BIS would like to extend its thanks to all participating teams for their diverse and high-quality submissions to the project study and the jury members for their highly appreciated work and expertise.

Visualisations: courtesy of ELEMENTAL and Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten, available here.

Participating companies


Members of the jury

  • 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
  • Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani – architect based in Milan and Zurich and visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • 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