Public Records Office Canton Basel-Landschaft / EM2N

Architects: EM2N
Location: Liestal,
Project team: Bernd Druffel, Marc Holle, Fredrik Johansson, Katharina Klinger, Thilo Kroeschell, Satu Marjanen, Claudia Meier, Mathias Müller, Daniel Niggli, Claudia Peter, Christoph Rothenhöfer
Programme: Shelter rooms for cultural assets / Archive extension / New office spaces for archivists / Customers‘ area and reading room
Client: Department for Construction and Environmental Protection, Canton Basel-Landschaft, represented by the Office for Building Contruction (Hochbauamt)
Engineers: Walt + Galmarini Bauingenieure AG, Zurich
Contractor: Otto + Partner AG, Liestal
Facade Planners: Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG, Muenchenstein
Design year: 2001-2007
Construction year: 2005-2007
Constructed Area: 4,705 sqm
Photographs: Hannes Henz

The Public Records Office is the collective memory of the political, economic and cultural life of a canton. Of central importance is an adequate urban location and appropriate architectural expression.

The current location, of the existing building amidst smaller and larger residential buildings cut off from the town centre by the railway line, hardly allows the public character of the institution to be expressed.

We interpret the need to double the spatial programme, on this site, as a chance to translate the existing building into a powerful, self-confident form. We added an additional storey to the archive wing, although the competition brief explicitly excluded vertical extensions. As a consequence the spatial programme is no longer horizontally but vertically organized. By placing the public zone on the second floor the visitors‘ area is lifted out of the cramped topography. In the form of a glazed roof volume, the new public zone engages the urban district of Liestal, which lies on the other side of the railway line embankment.

The vertical extension also allows the volume to be kept as compact as possible. At the ground level, the outermost plane of the facade is planted with ivy, enabling the blending of the existing and new levels, forming a single entity: the clean-edged glazed roof zone rests on a “soft” plinth. The planting of the facade also fulfills various building construction requirements (protection against driving rain, climatic balancing layer, temperature, moisture). In addition the plantings signalize the building’s special function; the organic softness connects the new building to the small-scaled green valley.

Cite: "Public Records Office Canton Basel-Landschaft / EM2N" 04 Feb 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
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  • martin

    the stair is a drilling bit.

  • Catherine

    LOVE the staircase! I often feel modern architecture gets WAY too boxy but this staircase is so organic in form and creates soothing movement that I think it works well in this space! Thanks for this post!

  • Francisca

    amazing stair and good facade solution!
    thanks archdaily,it is my favorite web site :)

  • tset

    I love the staircase as well… Drill bit is a good analogy.

  • aa4

    Anybody know what the staircase is made of? It almost looks like it’s made in one piece, you can’t see any joints!

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  • Myungjin

    yikkes! i agree with others. the staircase is almost sexy.////


    White, timber and pink? Difficult scheme to handle, but it seems you did quite well here! This space has good filling without excessive excitement. Well done in my humble opinion,

  • Office Pictures

    Nice worked

  • QOM

    I am also curious of what the staircase is made of.
    It looks like a polymer, it is so even.