Conversion of the historic cacao silo Erlenmatt Ost, , Haus für Kosmopolitisches in Basel
On the Erlenmatt Ost site in the north of Kleinbasel a new urban quarter is developing.
At its heart sits an abandoned silo, built in 1912 for the Basler Grain and Cacao Beans Dry Storage Company which is now being converted into a multi faceted venue for the wider local community.
Developed by the Habitat Foundation in collaboration with the Cosmopolitan Society a broad variety of socio-cultural activities intended to promote participation, openness and to vitalise the district will be available.
Key elements of this offering include affordable project rooms and atelier spaces for artists and craftsmen, a restaurant and a backpackers hostel. These functions will operate around the open salon, a multi-purpose cultural centre that will become the urban living room of the quarter.
Initially a freestanding structure, the silo will now be incorporated into a lengthy building row along Signalstrasse.
The design approach is shaped by the constraints arising from the retention of the existing building structure, the new inner room structure, ambitious sustainability targets and external factors from the noise pollution of the adjacent motorway. As one of the first steel-reinforced concrete structures in Switzerland and with a unique inner industrial condition defined by a vertical division of spaces, our aim was to preserve and celebrate the genius loci. Throughout the design process the building’s inner structure was always taken into account, safeguarding as much as possible of the existing fabric of the building and keeping disruptive interventions to a minimum.
The characteristic concrete silo chambers will remain – these will give the building’s new uses a familiar scale. Implementing new ceilings and circulation cores enable the anticipated range of uses. New porthole shaped windows provide ventilation, natural light and visual connections to the surroundings without disturbing the vertical order of the façade.
The hostel’s guest rooms face the street towards the northeast and are situated on the first and upper floor, situated opposite on the same floors the artists’ studios and the ateliers overlook the southwest courtyard. The open salon and the restaurant on the ground floor orient themselves towards the courtyard. A beer garden with generous connections to the open salon and restaurant knits the outside and inside together, along with the ground floor circulation space which connects the northern Signalstrasse to the southern courtyard creating an enclosed public thoroughfare.