Novartis Hortus Medicus
Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale 2004
Location: Basel, Switzerland
Date: 2003 Competition
FOA Partner in Charge: Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi
Nerea Calvillo, Kelvin Chu Ka Wing, Kazuhide Doi, Marco Guarnieri, Kensuke Kishikawa, Friedrich Ludewig, Jordi Pages Ramon, Ines Tavar
Structure: Walter Mory Maier, Basel
Services: Waldhauser Haustechnik, Basel
Fire Strategy: Prof. Mario Fontana, Zurich
Landscape Architect: Fahrni + Breitenfeld, Basel
Medical Consultant: Prof. Axel Fenner, Luebeck
Model: Andrew Ingham, London
More than ever before, the natural and the artificial are literally merging into each other. As a company dedicated to life sciences, Novartis is at the core of these relationships, and the Southern Interface to the Campus was an ideal occasion to explore, exploit and capture the potential of these emerging artificial ecologies in the design of the company’s future environment, and its representation.
Our proposal exploited the hybridisation between the natural and the artificial components of the brief. Rather than simply placing a picturesque park on top of a conventional parking, a new composite structure- a Thick Park – was developed where the park and the parking would produce a new ecology, each function playing complementary roles. Our proposal therefore arises from a reflection on the current status of biotechnology in the context of contemporary culture as an increasingly important domain of knowledge between the Natural and the Artificial.
In this proposal we have attempted to produce an assemblage between the two components of the project –the park and the parking-as a speculation on how the artificial and natural processes may be able to generate new forms of mutual enhancement. In place of an arbitrary replica of nature, the geology of the park is purely artificial, directly produced by the undulations of the parking slabs necessary for connections between the park surface and the two levels of parking below. The ventilation, escape routes and daylighting of the parking are produced by regular penetration of the park inside the parking, producing a regular pattern of deformation of the parking bands and the park spaces. The resulting organization is alveolar structure, regulated fundamentally by the geometric characteristics of a parking structure: a 16m wide band including an access road and two bands of parking. Rather than decorating the complex with a picturesque image of nature, our proposal is to recover here a medieval tradition linked to the University rather than to a corporate headquarters: the hortus medicus.