Novartis Campus Pilot Project, Basel

The Brief

Novartis wanted to redevelop their main campus as a centre of excellence and knowledge.

This involved the construction of some 20 office, laboratory and central services buildings, with each building designed by a leading international architect.

We were commissioned to undertake a pilot office project to explore ways to replace the predominant cellular office culture and create an environment that would foster greater communication, social interaction and teamwork. If successful, the idea was to incorporate these concepts into the master plan and design briefs for the other buildings.

The Challenge

We needed to overcome any issues and concerns upfront and get everyone excited about and involved in the design of their new workspace, so communication with the staff was key to the pilot being a success.

The Solution

The pilot project involved completely refurbishing a 1,190m² office floor to house the Finance department. We wanted to create an open dynamic workplace for the 70-strong team to allow individuals and teams to work within a series of varied environments and support both teamwork and individual, concentrated work.

By running an intensive user communication strategy as part of the design process, we were able to explain the benefits of moving from a cellular working environment to a more open plan set up, listen to and answer any concerns staff had and, where necessary, adjust the design to accommodate these.

Setting up an open, ongoing dialogue with staff, taking their concerns into consideration and gaining their trust was crucial to making sure that everyone felt comfortable, happy and part of their new working environment.

The Reaction

“The pilot project is a work of love. I found the environment stunning and a great way to demonstrate what is possible.”Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra Chairman“Sensational. I wish I could move in. Harmony. Symmetry. Human. Thanks so much for our office.”Sonya de Long, Novartis

Following the success of this multi-space approach, Novartis asked us to roll out the same concept across the rest of their new campus buildings, the first of which was Forum 3. Press coverage of this project has included NZZ Sontag, Financial Times, Interior, Hochparterre.


Gary Turnbull