Monika Gschwind, President of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft Government, praised Karamuk Kuo Architects of Zurich for their project to create an excavation center in the village of Augst: “You are working on the future in a historic environment,” she said. The Chief architect of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft, Marco Frigerio, confirmed that construction of the flexible and functional low-tech building will start in early-2019.
Holcim Switzerland invited key stakeholders representing business, politics and authorities to the archeological site of Augusta Raurica (Canton of Basel-Landschaft), the best-preserved Roman city north of the Alps that attracts some 150,000 visitors per year. The gathering at this site was to celebrate the LafargeHolcim Awards prize for a project described by the jury as “Radical Archaeology.” The design by Ünal Karamuk and Jeannette Kuo was recognized as one of the eleven best submissions in the European Awards competition 2017. “This project has grown close to our hearts,” said the two architects about the archaic, yet handsome structure that enables to house many uses.
Rolf Soiron, Chairman of the LafargeHolcim Foundation from 2003 to 2018, used the still ongoing excavation of the Roman settlement of Augusta Raurica as example to illustrate how lessons today can be learnt from the past – from culture to city building, down to the use of construction materials. He described the outstanding features of the prize-winning project as its capacity to achieve “sustainability through adaptability.”
Floating on a massive slab of concrete
Monika Gschwind and Marco Frigerio emphasized the immense pride of everyone involved in realizing a project that has achieved international recognition. Offices, preservation laboratories, workshops, and storage, previously dispersed in various buildings, will be united within a single structure. The cohesive structure will create a transparent working environment and a common identity for the 60 employees who are safeguarding the largest Roman site in Switzerland. “Preserving historic sites and artifacts and making them accessible to the next generation is building the foundation for the future,” explained Frigerio: the fact that the building “floats” above the ground without impacting the precious archaeological site below is an expression of the ingenuity of the design, he added.
Nick Traber, CEO of Holcim Switzerland, and Dennis Schneider, regional manager for North Western Switzerland, enthused on how pleased they are to be associated with the prize-winning project. A massive concrete slab will in one support the lightweight structure of the building and protect the historic remains in the ground below it. The Roman archaeological site and open-air museum Augusta Raurica is 20km east of Basel and the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine.
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