It’s something of a surprise to see the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron named in a boutique-hotel project. Outside of Switzerland, the firm is better known for large-scale projects like stadiums and museums. But Basel’s Volkshaus, while it’s not a football stadium, has been central to this city’s public life for centuries, and to adapt it for use as a hotel was no small task. Once a castle, later a brewery, still later a concert hall and office complex, it’s a site with a history that demands preservation.
What stands here today is both a very thorough update and a sensitive restoration. The long-hidden bones of the 1925 structure dictate the atmosphere, which indirectly recalls Bauhaus in its simplicity and its focus on livability. The 45 rooms are possessed of a warmth beyond the abilities of most contemporary designers, and the facilities are quietly state-of-the-art.
And the Volkshaus is still the people’s house, which means it’s much more than a hotel. There’s a brasserie, a bar, and a leafy courtyard, as well as a surplus of meeting and events space, and even a concert venue, whose reopening we eagerly await….