The idea was to plan a building dedicated to jazz. It was a challenge to bring the two disciplines of architecture and jazz together, as jazz music is characterised by improvisation and chance, while architecture seeks to avoid the random and to create something durable.
The second question was how to integrate a new building into the mature urban structure of the old town area in Basel. During our research, we realised that the ground plan of the local buildings had not changed much for centuries, although the buildings themselves had changed several times. So we decided to adhere to the notion of „found architecture“ and build the volume on the foundations of the old city layout. The result is a varied volume with a courtyard in the centre. We arranged the interior circulation of the building around the courtyard, resulting in a variety of paths and random meeting points, rather than short and efficient routes. Our intention was to create a circuit inside the building that starts at the rehearsal rooms, where one can practice almost privately, continues along the hallways where one meets other people, and culminates in the courtyard, where many people interact.As the spatial programme of the building was not set out at the start, we had to find out the specific requirements of the school and the musicians. During our survey we realised that there is no such thing as the perfect rehearsal room. Some people prefer to play in churches, others like to practice in a garage and some people play in their living rooms. The only common ground was the need for daylight and an atmosphere of private cosiness. Instead of flexible rooms, we provided a variety of rooms with different dimensions and acoustic qualities, offering the musicians a choice.
The spatial palette with over 50 different rehearsal rooms is completed by three characteristic recording and performance rooms, including an introverted performance room combined with a professional recording studio and a jazz club that opens up to the city and serves as a public interface.
The interior materials are of superior quality and wide-ranging, due to the acoustic requirements. Acoustics played an important role in shaping the building, as it was necessary to practically build a second structure within the structure, with walls metres thick.
Although each of the spaces is individual, the coherence of the interior design unifies the volumetric diversity of the exterior and creates the identity of the building.The interpretation of the courtyard as an urban interior gives the project a strong quality. The word campus, according to its original meaning as a field, is implemented here, both socially and spatially. Interior and exterior space merge, which links the house and the city, as well as the school and the public.