Elegant retreat with a unique twist
The main building comprises a modern, reduced concrete structure that extends over three floors. At first, this may sound bulky and not very refined – but the opposite is true. The building exudes an air of openness and weightless grace, and this is only in part due to the glass surfaces. This impression is achieved primarily through geometric breaks in the façade that create a surprising sense of airiness and open space.
How is this feeling of lightness created? The playful element of varying room heights evokes changing – and thus all the more exciting – moods in the building. The clear lines and shapes not only give the rooms structure, but they also fill them with an unmistakable rhythm. The atrium-like sculpture courtyard is the perfect “in-house gallery” for showcasing organic sculptures in natural daylight.
However, the defining element of this building, designed by architectural firm wild bär heule Architekten AG, is the impressive roof garden, created under the direction of Piet Oudolf, which commands the second floor. Other projects of the Dutch garden expert include the Gräfliche Park Bad Driburg (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), Scampston Garden (Yorkshire, UK) and High Line Park, a New York attraction.
In professional circles, the landscape gardener is often called the “Corbusier of horticulture” because he does not simply plan gardens – he carefully composes works of art that are instilled with a life of their own. As a cosmopolitan and nature lover, he strives to bring a little naturalness back into the urban sphere. For him, gardens and parks are not static entities, but something very much alive – an organism that keeps changing dynamically.
According to Oudolf’s garden philosophy, a garden is more than just the perfect place to relax. It is a place of longing, an island, a delicately designed paradise. Since the garden is tailored to the needs of its owners, they can come here to relax and recuperate, while at the same time making discoveries and having uplifting experiences at their own doorstep. Normally, gardens present a piece of tamed nature. However, there is always a trace of wildness in the spaces designed by Oudolf.
He achieves this effect through the clever combination of plants – for example grasses and thistles. In this way, the landscape gardener sets vibrant accents that draw the eye to seasonal highlights throughout the year. Yet he rarely uses a bright yellow or a flashy rose to do this. He prefers to arrange simple perennials and “paint” landscapes by introducing different heights and varied structures. He is particularly fond of grasses because of the way they catch the wind. There is something stimulating about their movement. It is a very conscious choice to have the garden play with the senses and perception by stressing the familiar, while also offering an element of surprise. It is precisely this duality that Piet Oudolf was able to orchestrate in a unique manner at the villa in Basel.
HIRT kinetics® as a canvas for the landscape artist
The HIRT kinetics®-XL installed in the pool house offer Piet Oudolf a very special canvas. They not only reflect the garden in the sunshine, but also give it more space for expression.
When the windows at the pool slide down silently as if by magic, the garden is suddenly augmented by a new dimension: water. It now has a calm water surface that radiates tranquility and provides a relaxing ambiance. Add some wind blowing through the grasses to complete the scene and create a perfect illusion. All of the sudden it’s as if the beach grass were rustling in the wind by the Mediterranean Sea. With surprising force, this maritime flair takes root in the middle of Switzerland, where there are high mountains aplenty, but no dunes whatsoever.
This sudden transformation is underscored by the organic sculpture in the sculpture courtyard, which, in this instant, is strongly reminiscent of driftwood. This is about as much dynamic diversity as is possible in your own home. When the wind and weather are right, the seating area beneath the pergola instantly turns into a beach terrace where you can enjoy the evening with a little sundowner or treat yourself to a refreshing dip in the “indoor-outdoor pool.”
At times like these, Basel and Switzerland are far, far away. It’s all in the moment. And this moment invites onlookers to consciously lose themselves in the scenery and return to a more natural form of living by exploring new perspectives.
HIRT moving architecture® is more than just technology – it is design set into motion
There is no wizardry behind HIRT moving architecture®, but a lot of know-how and technology. In order to make a perfect impression, two building elements are to sink elegantly and silently into the ground at this location. To achieve the best possible aesthetic, glass surfaces weighing tons must move at an optimal and perfectly choreographed pace – neither too fast nor too slow.
The HIRT façade disappears inconspicuously into a threshold made of stone. If you don’t know it’s there, you will not be able to recognize this building element at first glance. The illusion of invisibility is staged with perfection.
The opening out to the garden and seating area is not obstructed by anything, be it an upright or wall. The upright-free corner solution makes skillful use of this maximized space, creating a sense of extreme openness while at the same time keeping things close together. It is precisely this subliminal sense of contrast that makes the building so appealing. The technology thus allows building owners and architects to invite the outside in and to take the inside out as needed. In this way, nature and the home achieve a harmonious balance, and living becomes more natural in a completely new way. The result is a “hyggelig” lifestyle, as the Danish would put it.