Grimshaw Architects, Archipel Generalplanung AG, and landscape architects LAND have won the competition to design the masterplan for University of Bern's Muesmatt campus in Switzerland. The winning design was selected from a shortlist of 26 participants, and was commended for how it opens up Bern's quarter and re-establishes urban and visual connections.
The masterplan introduces new facilities to support the university's program and enhances the site as a redefined public space. Located in proximity to Bern’s UNESCO Heritage old town, the new buildings will create an environment that respects and pays tribute to the city's existing heritage buildings, in which some date back to the late 19th and mid-20th century.
A new neighborhood will be developed in front of the Art Nouveau-style St. Paul's Church towards the east, and a series of lower scale buildings with courtyards and green spaces will be implemented towards the south. Redevelopment works on the area include demolition, rebuilding, and adaptation of existing buildings, to create a multidisciplinary 'science cluster' for the campus. The proportions, sizing, and positioning of the buildings are integral to the design concept, as they respond to the typography of the context and create a continuous transition from the edge of the campus area to the central square, without disregarding the bell tower of the St. Paul's Church.
As for the landscape, a green axis on Gertrud-Woker-Strasse will be reformed into a pedestrian avenue, becoming the 'backbone' of the masterplan and connecting it to the new six-floor natural sciences building. The entire masterplan is surrounded by a 'green belt' and reimagines the country's native alpine flora to enhance the campus' biodiversity and provide recreational and serene spaces for students, researchers, and residents.
The first phase of works will cover the large-scale natural sciences building, and the rest of the new buildings will cover the second one. The latter aim to further define the green axis of the site and create a framework for a network of car-free routes, simplifying the connections to neighboring university buildings.