A shortage of hotels moved the Messe Basel, the biggest and most important exhibition site for trade fairs in Switzerland, to develop in its immediate vicinity a high rise building, the Messeturm, with 105m the tallest building planned in Switzerland at the time.
The very slim and tall tower made high demands on architecture, building statics and building technology. The requirements for earthquakes, wind loads and serviceability especially demanded careful investigations. Consultations with the Government, the Civil Engineering Department and also the Conservation Office were made necessary, as the project is located adjacent to the listed "Rundhofhalle", an exhibition building by Hans Hofmann.
The tower houses the exhibition centre Messe Basel, a 250-room 4-star hotel with conference facilities, restaurant and independently leased office floors. The two-storey high entrance hall serves also as a bar, lounge and reception.
The opening date of the hotel was bound to the start of the International Watch and Jewelry Fair. This caused a very fast planning and an implementation period of only 18 months from demolition of existing buildings to handover.
Services of OAP
Developer: Messe Schweiz, Basel
Builder: Swiss Prime Site AG
Architects: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Morger & Degelo AG, Marques AG
Project management: OAP Offermann Architektur & Projekte, Zürich
Structure engineer: WGG Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure AG, Basel
Area ca. 32'000 m2
Execution: August 2001 - März 2003
Budget ca. CHF 200 Mio.
The apparently weightless cantilevered base area is made possible by a three dimensional steel framework.
A mixed construction of structural steel and a concrete core resulted in a highly efficient support structure and an optimized use of materials. The steel construction and the prefabricated façade elements involved a high degree of prefabrication. The one storey high façade elements were added without scaffolding. The tower's 32 storeys were hoisted on a weekly basis by a climbing cladding structure. The construction logistics required a tight hourly schedule to coordinate more than 60 transports every day to and from the building site without impeding the tram and fair operation.
As appointed project managers OAP led the construction of the tower and the planning and implementation of the exhibition space.
As an additional logistical challenge, an important public transport tram turning loop and waiting rails were located in the same place as today's trade fair tower. New tram lines and track systems had to be created at this busy intersection. In a weekend and overnight operation the old tracks were replaced while traffic had to be maintained constantly. At the same time. the entire civil engineering works with plant management re-routing, track construction, installation work and the building construction of the tower had to be carefully coordinated with the simultaneously held trade fairs and congresses.