Südpark Basel, Construction Site D, Switzerland

Artificial Nature

Client: Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB
Architecture: Herzog & de Meuron
Period: 2003 – 2011
Surface area: 4 000m2

The vegetation of the Gundeldinger Quarter consists of the ruderal plants of the SBB railway tracks, Margarethenpark and Bruderholz, as well as soft streetside greenery and front yards.

The central area of the grounds, the Ahornhof, is a courtyard of artificial character. It picturesquely reproduces a naturally ocurring section of vegetation from Japanese maple forests. Its functionality allows it to be experienced and appreciated by visitors.

Troughs of Japanese maples are set up throughout the yard. The amorphous shapes of the vegetation areas are completely detached from the strict formal language of the surrounding architecture. The trees present various views of their foliage in the course of the year; while budding, in the summer, and in their autumnal coloring. Smaller varieties form a lower canopy, while varieties with a tree habitus rise up to 5-7 meters in height. The trunks and the fine branches along with the undergrowth create a vegetative world of their own. Individual ornamental cherries scattered throughout the area lend efflorescence to the yard, their striking trunks stand out from green carpets of Ophiopogon perennials.

The selection of exotic plants contrasts with the locally sourced ground cover. The light, native pebbles discreetly complement the dark, humic vegetation and immerse the plant beds in a familiar surrounding.