International architecture practice Grimshaw, in partnership with Archipel Generalplanung AG and landscape architects LAND has been awarded first place in the competition to design the masterplan for University of Bern Muesmatt campus in Switzerland. An anonymous competition, the winning design was selected from a shortlist of 26 teams. Grimshaw was also highly commended in the design competition for the campus’ new natural sciences building.
The masterplan, which will form the basis for the redevelopment of the university campus, opens up this city quarter by re-establishing street and visual connections, inserting new facilities to support the university and enhancing the public spaces, and creating a network of outdoor spaces: the campus redefined as a public place. Located in proximity to Bern’s Unesco heritage old town, the development of new buildings will also create an environment that responds to, and unites, the existing heritage buildings which date from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century and include buildings by the Swiss architect Otto Rudolf Salvisberg.
A ‘green’ axis ― Gertrud-Woker-Strasse, an existing street reformed as a pedestrian avenue ― forms the backbone of the masterplan and connects to the new six floor natural sciences building.
A new neighbourhood central square is established in front of the Art Nouveau Pauluskirche along Freiestrasse to the east, and a series of lower scale buildings with courtyards and green spaces, respond to the street context to the south, on Bühlstrasse. The landscape reimagines native alpine flora to enhance the campus biodiversity and provide tranquil spaces for students, researchers and residents to meet and unwind. A ‘green belt’ surrounding the campus further creates a permeable connection to the city.
Redevelopment of the area includes the demolition, rebuild and sensitive adaptation of existing listed buildings ― including research facilities and laboratories ― to deliver a multidisciplinary science cluster for the university. The sizing and positioning of the buildings ― including the large-scale natural sciences building, which will be developed in the first phase ― is integral to the design concept. Proportions respond to the typography of the site and create a continuous transition from the edge of the campus area to the central square, without diminishing the bell tower of Pauluskirche. The new buildings of the second phase will also further define the green axis of the area and create a framework for a network of car-free paths, simplifying routes and connections to neighbouring university buildings.