‘Seacliff’ wins the race for the Ozeanium

The result of international architectural competition for the Basel Zoo Ozeanium has been decided: the winning project is called ‘Seacliff’’ and comes from Boltshauser Architekten Zurich. ‘Seacliff’ particularly impressed the jury with its understated architecture and compact above-ground building space.

In February 2012, 55 teams bid to construct Basel Zoo’s planned Ozeanium on Heuwaage. From these three-part teams, consisting of an architectural firm, an aquarium designer and a general planner, 15 teams were selected to develop a project for the ‘Ozeanium’ anonymous architectural competition. The participants were given until 2nd October 2012 to shape their proposals for this large inner-city aquarium. The competition jury, consisting of representatives from the cantonal Construction and Transport Department, Basel Zoo representatives and several architects, has now reached a decision: project ‘Seacliff’ by Boltshauser Architekten Zurich is the best fit for Heuwaage and the zoo.

High quality from all competition participants

“All in all, the entries submitted were at an extremely high level and represented a wide range of interesting proposed solutions for the task and location at hand”, explained jury member and Basel canton master builder Fritz Schumacher. “However, the restrained architectural language chosen by the winning project ‘Seacliff’ was the best match for the public image cultivated by Basel Zoo. Under this proposal the above-ground building space on the Heuwaage site is smaller than for other competition entries, thus also offering the best solution from an urban development perspective.” The jury also liked the winning project’s clay and trass lime façade and the optimal use of the available space.

The project in second place, ‘Watergate’ by HHF + Burckhardt Partner, suggested organising the entire above-ground Ozeanium as a monolithic slanting structure with a small footprint. With nine floors it was the tallest of all the projects submitted, and would have dominated the Heuwaage area with its size and architectural character. The third-placed project ‘Blue Cave’ by Zaha Hadid was excellent quality from an architectural point of view, but the visitor aisles were relatively thin in many areas and the dynamic styling of the building’s interior would have been in competition with the aquariums. The jury selected a building which fitted Basel Zoo. For decades the zoo has been endeavouring to make use of reticent architecture that does not compete with the animals in any way.

Giant octopuses in Basel from 2019

“The Ozeanium will link the Steinenvorstadt, Heuwaage, nightingale grove and zoo locations in the best possible way. With opening hours right into the night it will transform Heuwaage into a lively meeting place and perfectly complement Basel Zoo”, was the happy judgement of Basel Zoo director Olivier Pagan. “We estimate that the construction of this energy-efficient building and its operational facilities will require investment of 60 to 80 million Swiss francs”. The next step is to create a preliminary project as the basis for a development plan, which will then be submitted to the Basel city

parliament for a vote. Basel Zoo is likely to be able to begin construction work on the large aquarium in 2016. “If everything goes to plan, from 2019 onwards visitors to our Ozeanium will be immersed in a fascinating environment of coral reefs, sharks, giant octopuses and luminous marine organisms”, according to Thomas Jermann, Basel Zoo’s Ozeanium project manager. “This large Basel aquarium will give us humans a greater insight into the hidden environment of the ocean, thus promoting an appreciation and understanding of one of the most important ecosystems on our planet.”

Exhibition in Messe Basel

All architectural competition projects will be on display in Messe Basel from 8th to 16th December 2012. The exhibition will be open Mondays to Fridays 4pm to 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 6pm. A public preview will be held on 7th December at 5pm. The exhibition can be found on the ground floor in Hall 3, underneath the car park.

» Jurybericht downloaden (13 MB pdf-Datei)