alvaro siza: novartis campus - virchow 6 alvaro siza: novartis campus - virchow 6
jun 22, 2012

alvaro siza: novartis campus - virchow 6

alvaro siza: novartis campus – virchow 6 view from the rhine river




author: christoph merian verlag publisher: Merian, Christoph Verlag year: 2012 size: 79 pages, 24.5 x 31.5 cm ISBN: 978-3-85616-547-5


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‘this transparent layering creates a contextual, even a contextualist building. on the side that faces the rhine, the building- with its facade sealed behind an additional glass shell- appears to the passing ships and pedestrians on the riverside promenade as the prestigious product of a globally active pharmaceutical company. where it faces the physics garden, virchow 6 opens up to employees and visitors in the corporate city…’  – christoph merian verlag, author


content completing the 13th part of a series illustrating the basel novartis campus, this volume showcases portuguese architect  alvaro siza’s virchow 6 building. much of the content covers the conceptual moves he made and speculates as to their consequential social impacts within the context of the city and the novartis campus. the book includes a multitude of photographs depicting varying scales of the completed work, several sketches, and technical drawings, in addition to a brief explanation illustrating the ideas behind each space in the building and the conceptual strategies implemented in the design. additionally, you can enjoy some personal information about siza and his design process with regards to this project.

southeast view from rhine



within the existing cartesian grid mandating the novartis campus, pritzker prize winner alvaro siza adds a culturally and architecturally subversive project. virchow 6 cedes to the pre-established order in footprint, but truly results in a complete juxtaposition to the existing traditions of both the site and the architect. the exterior of the building constitutes a series of transparent layers realized by a vast curtain wall facade which is echoed into the interior. this transparency not only leaves the structure’s symbolic form unconventionally ambiguous to novartis standards, but also provides an open interior workspace encouraging collaboration amongst its users. 

the open floor plan of the interior is organized around two white-marble cladded concrete cores, offset from the north-south axis creating a metaphorical criticism of the social issues existing between north and south europe. this radical change isn’t the only disruption: the southeast corner of the building literally juts out almost over the rhine, and the northwest entrance is recessed into a curvilinear courtyard space, both of which make bold statements against the existing orthogonal orders in society and design.    

exterior view of southeast corner

double skin curtain wall extends beyond the footprint

corner detail

upward view of corner detail

roof top technology center

interior spaces

conference rooms

conference room with curtains open

view of the rhine river from the workstations

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level 1

floor plan / level 4

roof plan

technology center on roof



east elevation

south elevation

north elevation

inside cover spread showing northwest entrance image © designboom

spread showing interior lab spaces image © designboom

book cover image © designboom

  • desculpem.mas isto é (muito) normal.

    pedro says:
  • subversive?? Its bland on the outside and cluttered on the inside. Novartis needs to inject style and human aesthetics to win our hearts over – but this is a building for grey people.

    fred says:
  • zizek says this is ideology at its worst!

    n says:
  • working astro

    my id says:
  • It’s so great to see a really pared down design from one of the great architects of our time, a clean and mature expression of their ideals which developed over their long careers. This is a space I would love to work in every day and see how the details reveal themselves with time. Thank you for sharing

    Lenny says:

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