The Landhof Areal has been and still is a unique part of the city of Basel since the 19th century. It has a rich history of sport and leisure activities and it has long offered a retreat from the busy city life.
The Landhof creates an exceptional urban condition, a unusual typology of a park. It is almost hidden, surrounded by housing, visible only to connoisseurs that know of its existence. It is a unique urban condition – the park doesn’t really have borders with the city, but it’s rather “filtered” by the housing blocks. This condition also creates an unusual relationship for the residents that live in the buildings surrounding it. It is a public park on one hand and their private back yard on the other.
We wish to keep and enhance the relationship between the city and the park, its entrances and the interface with the surrounding neighborhood as well as the relationship between the Landhof and its immediate surroundings – the residents.
Urban and landscape concept
In order to re-create the Landhof as a park, as a meaningful public space for the city of Basel, we chose to demolish the exiting structure that divides the space into a few disconnected spaces by that to recreate the Landhof as a distinct, meaningful public space.
The Landhof is imagined as a void, a clearing in the woods, surrounded by layers of activities varying from the natural to the artificial. The memory and form of the football field are kept and allow a wide array of activities – one can still play football, walk around or just lay on the grass.
The clearing is surrounded by the pedestrian path, followed by a seating area with benches and lights. The next layer is formed by the old seating tribune – the once artificial, became the main piece of nature. The special vegetation that grew there as well as the XX trees create a buffer zone between public and private, thus generating a pleasant view for both the residents and the visitors of the park. The next layer is the private gardens of the residential buildings, followed by the housing blocks themselves, the streets and finally the city.
The interface of the park with the city is “moderated” through the entrances. They offer a glimpse, a sudden impression of the park itself. The tribune is then cut in order to facilitate the pedestrian access to the park. The visitor opens a vegetal curtain and the clearance is revealed.
The pavilion is situated carefully in the northern part of the part, encompassing a cluster of trees for preservation. It is facing entirely south therefore offering a pleasurable sitting area in summer and allowing natural light in winter. It takes part in the “artificial” ring, insulated from the outside by the vegetal buffer zone and welcomes the visitors from the direction of the new Messe.
The pavilion is conceived as a series of roofs, similar to “paper foils” – thin brushed metal roofs reflecting both the park and the sky. Its structure recalls the first roof used to protect the spectators in the first football matches that took place in the park. The rectangles are overlapping in order to generate joined/mutual spaces such as the foyer and entrance. Using this strategy we achieve independence to each of the programmatic elements while still creating a connection between them and a possibility to connect two or more spaces. The pavilion’s envelope is gradually changing from the transparent to translucent in relation to the program that they encircle.
Rather than creating “an object” that sits in the park, the pavilion forms part of the ring concept and is facing entirely the Landhof. It is as extroverted as possible without compromising the privacy of the neighbors.