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State-of-the-art infrastructure for leading-edge research at the Biozentrum

The Biozentrum will move into a new home to continue fostering its world class research. It will house 600 researchers from around the world and a large range of highly sensitive scientific installations. For the university as a whole, an additional lecture hall capacity for 800 students is being created.

Already its predecessor stood out as a landmark for the innovative, basic, research at the university. On October 1st, 1971, the Biozentrum building, we still know today, was opened. Now, a new landmark – a state-of-the-art research tower – will replace its forerunner. And this for numerous reasons: The almost 50 year old building requires extensive renovations, it is far from meeting today’s Minergie standards and it would not be possible to carry out the required work parallel to the Biozentrum’s operations. Furthermore, the way in which research is carried out today and the associated demands on the infrastructure have changed dramatically. For the Biozentrum to continue its 50 years story of success and to uphold its position in the global academic competition, a new home with a state-of-the-art infrastructure is therefore necessary.

New Biozentrum building
The Biozentrum tower comprises of 19 floors – 16 above ground and 3 basement levels. Its floor area of 23’400 m2 will provide space for 600 researchers and 800 students. Forty percent of the total volume lies underground.

Ten floors are available for research. Each can accommodate four research groups. Adjacent floors are joined through an open staircase and a meeting zone benefitting scientific exchange, because especially in interdisciplinary research, the bedrock of the Biozentrum, innovative ideas often arise from random discussions. Also the shared technology platforms are distributed over all the floors, encouraging encounters and informal dialogue.

Setting-up these technology platforms is highly complex, ranging from the Imaging Core Facility to facilities with extremely sensitive scientific equipment, such as the Center for Cellular Imaging and NanoAnalytics (C-CINA) or for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to various special hazard laboratories. They all place high and, in some cases, very different demands on temperature requirements, ventilation, pressure conditions, room climate control, biosafety or the requirement to be vibration free. From the building technology point of view, this state-of-the-art infrastructure is the greatest challenge.

Along with the Biozentrum, the new building will also house the University’s IT-Services, lecture halls, seminar rooms and a public cafeteria. A large, freely accessible open space will surround the building and, with its seating and water fountains, create a meeting place for the whole Life Sciences Campus.

Life Sciences Campus of the University of Basel
The Biozentrum tower is one of the largest building construction projects in the history of the University of Basel as well as the awarding authorities – the financing cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt – and it is the first building block on the way to a Life Sciences Campus. By 2029, the campus “Schällemätteli” will be further developed, with new buildings for the Departments of Biomedicine, Physics and Chemistry as well as the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) of the ETH Zurich, in the immediate vicinity of the University Hospital Basel and University Children’s Hospital Basel. The concentration at one location, of the 40 sites presently scattered around Basel, will optimize co-operations in research and teaching, promote the exchange of ideas in the life sciences and foster collaborations with industry and newly established businesses in the Basel region.

Synergies in infrastructure and operations
Synergies are being created, not only from a scientific point of view but also in terms of infrastructure and operations. For example, the cleanrooms for producing microelectronic and body-on-a-chip devices, a Good Manufacturing Practice Facility at the D-BSSE and the Genomics Facility at the Biozentrum will be jointly used by both research institutes. Moreover, the three new buildings as well as the Pharmazentrum will share a common media station. In the future, pooled deliveries will enter a logistics tunnel from Schanzenstrasse and the University Hospital and the Department of Biomedicine will have an underground connection. The new Biozentrum building will also assume certain central functions, including catering, the supply of power in peak demand times and professional waste disposal.

Life Sciences Cluster Basel
Nearly 800 million Swiss francs will be invested in the Life Sciences Campus, for a highly modern infrastructure, in order to create and further an optimal research environment for the various life science areas. For the University of Basel, life sciences is a major focus both in regard to its research activities and international recognition as well as in the fields of study it offers, as it provides trained young scientists for the regional life sciences industry. With Novartis and Roche, along with over 600 life sciences and biotech companies, it is the most important employer in the region, with high growth rate and a regional added value of 20 percent.