FOCKETYN DEL RIO Studio
1. August 2019
Photo © Adrià Goula
Back in 2013 FOCKETYN DEL RIO Studio has won the competition for the restoration of Kaserne Basel, a military site near the centre. Only last year, the Parterre building was finished nearby. Although designed for a different client, this for the architects put the icing on the cake. Hans Focketyn and Miquel del Rio answer our questions.
Location Klybeckstrasse 1b, 4057 Basel
Client Parterre AG + Basel Stadt (IBS + HBA / Inmobilien Basel Stadt + Hochbauamt)
Architect FOCKETYN DEL RIO Studio: Hans Focketyn (Design Principal), Miquel del Rio (Design Principal), Letizia Fürer, Hajdin Dragusha, Francesco Di Giuseppe, Xenia Heid, Marina Dold, Raphaël Ratier, Josh Thompson
Structural Engineer Schnetzer Puskas
Site & Cost Supervision Rapp. Mechanical
Photographer Adrià Goula
Photo © Adrià GoulaWhat were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
We started the masterplan for Parterre five years ago, and Parterre One Bistro, Restaurant & Bar is like the cherry on top of a cake. The client had three independent businesses – a concert hall, a bar and a restaurant. All of them needed refreshment, and they were not communicating with each other. The client wanted to unify them and got in touch with us. We proposed the idea of recuperating the patio as a central meeting space to give access to the three different business. A couple of years ago, we realized the concert room and the bar, and in November 2018, we finally opened the restaurant and finished a vision that started five years ago.
Photo © Adrià Goula
Photo © Adrià GoulaPlease provide an overview of the project.
This restaurant is located in a three-story heritage building at a quite prominent place in the city of Basel, part of an old military site that was vacated about 50 years ago. And, by the way, the whole site is in the process of profound transformation – we are currently working on the Kaserne Cultural Center, which is situated right next to Parterre and is presently under construction.
The Parterre building has a clear programmatic distinction. On the ground floor, we have two spaces with equal importance, which are divided by a central core. On the upper level, we have an open kitchen, visible to the guest, and a refined gastronomic space for private dining. The third floor and in the basement host offices and technical uses. Outside, a courtyard with a functional yet aesthetic concrete topography offers accessibility and multiple social applications within a walled courtyard, connecting the restaurant with the concert hall.
Photo © Adrià GoulaWhat are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
On the outside, both the concert hall and the restaurant share a common language of being very respectful to the history of the site and its buildings. Our approach to Parterre One Music, the concert hall, was to create a completely unexpected and new experience on the inside – a new world, not visible from the outside, connected to nightlife and extreme emotions. On the inside, Parterre One Bistro, Restaurant & Bar is something very different: It's a clean space that's all about a gentle upgrade of its history. An untrained eye might very well think that the refurbishment never happened, and this was our goal. We identified the elements that gave the place its characteristics, cleaned them, and made them stronger. Very carefully, we've placed a few insertions that, in a ubiquitous and precise way, allow the building to perform the services needed. All spaces have a specific condition of banality, but once in use, they become particular due to the context in which they are placed.
Photo © Adrià GoulaTo what extent did the clients and/or future users of the building influence the design and the outcome of the building?
Quite generally, we work a lot in a cultural context, and these cultural projects are deeply interwoven with the client: Every such project is born through the client's vision. In this specific case, our client had a vision, which didn't necessarily have a precise translation into architecture. Our job was first to understand what the client wanted and to translate these ideas into the world of architecture then. In a way, we are very involved in an alchemist process, which consists of turning ideas into spaces. On top of that, which is one of the most critical aspects of our architecture, we design with the user in mind.Were there any significant challenges that arose during the project? If so, how did you respond to them?
The biggest challenge was timing. We were dealing with an existing building which contained a lot of unknowns. While drawings and records existed when we started the project, nobody really knew exactly what was going on on the inside of the building. To address this reality, we decided to work with industrialized and prefabricated elements to speed up the process and to give us air to deal with these unknown but anticipated discoveries.
Photo © Adrià GoulaHow does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
Throughout our work, we reduce, reuse, and recycle. Do we want to build more buildings or build less? Shouldn't we reuse what is already existing?While this is not immediately visible, Parterre One is built with a wooden structure, built with a new form of triplex wood, making the whole building earthquake-proof. But not only that: With this wooden structure, it doesn't create CO2, but stores it. We used this technologically advanced material to sustainably produce a building that doesn't confront its users with these realities. At Parterre One, its users should have a nice lunch and shouldn't be confronted with a manifesto. Our buildings all incorporate an approach we like to call "Soft Radicality": They hide powerful concepts of sustainability and technology behind a refined and beautiful shape.