Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos in collaboration with Giraudi-Wettstein
Location: Basel train station, Centralbahnstrasse 10, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Completion date: 2003
Collaborators: J. C. Mulero, M. Velasco, L. Gutiérrez. Cruz y Ortiz arquitectos M. Delmenico, T. Radczuweit, P. Vitali. Giraudi-Wettstein, Itten + Brechbühl AG., Technical Surveyors, Passera & Pedretti, Structural Consultant, Rinaldo Passera, Erich Borer, Tadeusz Tzsesiac, Suiselectra Ingenierunternehmungn AG, Services Consultant
Built area: Footbridge: 9.000 sqm
Parking: 14.700 sqm
Client: Passarelle Bahnhof Basel SBB
Photographs: Courtesy of Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
The Basel Railway Station is a building from the end of the 19th Century which features an impressive passenger hall and large metal shelters above the platforms. Located to the side of the tracks, the different platforms were connected by an underpass which was also extended to join the part of the city located on the other side of the railway area.
The project carried out involved replacing the abovementioned underpass with a raised footbridge, which begins with a large opening in the hall, runs underneath and before the large existing shelters (all registered as protected monuments) and ends at a new planned square in the Gundeli district, on the other side of the tracks. As well as the connections to the different platforms –current and future ones– the footbridge includes services and shops, ending next to the aforementioned square in a main volume hosting exclusively business use. A multi-storey underground car park has been built underneath the square.
The entire works were executed without affecting the intense day-to-day operating of the station, which made it necessary to build the large lower concrete slab beyond the tracks shifting it afterwards -over the tracks, one platform at a time- to the hall of the old station. This laborious and difficult process resulted in a really strict floorplan, in which the room for manoeuvre was extremely limited due to the numerous problems that had to be solved.
As has always traditionally been the case in railway stations, it is in the cross section, and more specifically in the roof, where we enjoyed a certain freedom. Thus, as well as solving the problems of passing over the existing shelters or suitably adapting to the many diverse uses, the roof, specifically the silhouette of this, gave the architect a certain calligraphic freedom. It also made it possible -albeit at the last moment– to add a personal touch, and at the same time endow the building with a formal singularity in accordance with its important urban role.