Helvetia has just submitted its application for a construction permit for Helvetia Campus Basel designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Work is set to begin after this year's summer holidays. By the end of 2020, the project will see the construction of a second building that is both a complement to and contemporary reinterpretation of the existing head office. The two buildings will be linked by a connecting structure containing a spacious and transparent auditorium, an imposing reception area, and function rooms.
The existing head office building dating from the mid-1950s will then be comprehensively renovated. The full project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023 and will cost around CHF 200 million. This figure does not include the final stage, involving the construction of a new residential building on the northern side of St. Alban-Anlage, also to plans by Herzog & de Meuron. It will contain around 50 light and airy modern apartments for rent as well as guest accommodation. The large green area will be retained.
Driving the business forward
Helvetia has grown strongly over recent years, and with further expansion planned the approximately 350 new office workspaces will provide much-needed logistical capacity. Philipp Gmür, CEO of Helvetia, also sees the investment as underscoring the company's commitment to Basel: "As one of Switzerland's leading insurance companies, we want to remain an attractive employer in Basel and further expand our business activities from both there and St. Gallen in line with our strategic objectives. Helvetia Campus Basel will help us unlock and further leverage that potential."
Focusing operational processes at St. Alban-Anlage and Steinengraben will give Helvetia even greater flexibility. The open structure of Helvetia Campus Basel is designed to nurture innovation by encouraging inspiring exchanges and lively dialogue. The public space will also enhance customer orientation and proximity: the plans include a roof café open to the public on the new office building and an auditorium for in-house and outside events for up to 250 guests.
Prestige architecture and sustainable building methods
The revamp of the existing office building and overhaul of its infrastructure will deliver a major improvement in energy and resource efficiency. The aim is to obtain certification from the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) for the new office building under the platinum standard for sustainability, which takes into account not just ecological aspects but also sociocultural and other considerations.
A major investor and employer in Basel, Helvetia sees the project as a contribution to enriching the urban landscape and improving the quality of the St. Alban-Anlage site. For Ralph-Thomas Honegger, Head of Investments at Helvetia and member of Group Executive Management, this means that two aspects are especially crucial: "The prestige architecture by Herzog & de Meuron will meet the need for a substantial improvement in operational processes and a modernisation of the working environment at our Basel head office while also responding to local residents' desire for an enhancement of their area, with shared zones in an open and appealing ambiance."
Campus will create an unmistakeable identity
The ensemble of new buildings will give Helvetia a signature address at St. Alban-Anlage and greater visibility in the cityscape. "The pairing of two buildings – old and new – will be a symbolic statement. Their outline will give the campus an unmistakeable identity," explains Pierre de Meuron from Herzog & de Meuron.
The business premises at Steinengraben, the former head office of Nationale Suisse, are not affected by Helvetia Campus Basel. Group head office in St. Gallen is currently also being expanded and renovated, with the last section of the four additional new office buildings set for completion in late summer 2017. This project was also designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
Fig. I: Artist's impression of Helvetia Campus Basel (Herzog & de Meuron)
Fig. II: Model of Helvetia Campus Basel (Herzog & de Meuron)
Fig. III: St. Alban-Anlage in Basel today (Herzog & de Meuron)