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Urban development A new skyline for Basel

In some cities in Switzerland, population growth and scarce building land are causing houses to reach for the skies. 

Switzerland experienced its first high-rise boom in the 1960s and 1970s, marked by strong immigration. Most of the nation’s approximately 2,000 high-rise residential buildings with ten or more floors were built during those two decades.

In more recent years, Zurich, Dübendorf, Zug, Lausanne and Basel have added the most apartment towers with at least 15 floors. A particular case is Basel, which has seen its skyline changed by numerous high-rises. In particular, the pharmaceutical giant Roche is going ahead with the construction of Building 2. With a height of 205 metres, it will be the tallest building in Switzerland when it’s finished by the end of the year.

Roche’s Building 1 was inaugurated in September 2015, when it claimed the title of “Switzerland’s tallest building” from Prime Tower in Zurich, which had held the record for almost four years.

At the end of November, Roche also presented four new research buildings designed by the architects Herzog and de Meuron. It will be built in the immediate vicinity of Buildings 1 and 2 by the end of 2023; the tallest will be 114 metres high.

Not every Swiss is happy about the changing skyline. For example, in mid-December, the municipality of Münchenstein near Basel approved a high-rise on the site of the former Spengler textile plant. Now, however, a bipartisan committee has launched a referendum against the planned building. If 500 valid signatures are gathered by mid-January, the voters will have their say on the tower.

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