Naturbad Riehen, Natural Swimming Pool/

Herzog & de Meuron


Project Details



Weilstrasse, Riehen / Switzerland



Year (Design/Construction):

2012 / 2014

Area (Net/Gross):

324 m2 / -
Operational Carbon emissions

Operational Carbon emissions (B6) kgCO2e/m2/y:

Embodied Carbon emissions

Embodied Carbon emissions (A1-A3) kgCO2e/m2:

  • Natural materials such as larch are utilised to reduce total embodied energy.
  • Structure and material layers are minimised and lean design practices are deployed.
  • Large MEP systems are replaced with natural biological filtration.
  • The baths also provide a more suitable environment for local flora and fauna when compared to chemically treated baths.

The Swiss municipality of Riehen, bordering the city of Basel, lies in the gently widening valley of the River Wiese, near to its confluence with the Rhine. For decades, the local population has yearned for a new public swimming pool to replace the obsolescent baths by the riverbank, with various attempts having failed. After winning a design competition in 1979 and several unrealised projects in the following years, Herzog & de Meuron again started to ponder the options for a new bathing facility. The changed perspectives brought by the intervening years prompted the idea of abandoning the conventional pool concept with its mechanical and chemical water treatment systems in favour of a pool closer to a natural condition with biological filtration. This approach was publicly discussed by the citizens of Riehen and officially approved by a municipal vote. The standard geometric swimming pool transforms into a bathing lake where the technical systems and machine rooms vanish, to be substituted by planted filtering cascades. This concept led to the notion of modelling the natural pool on the local “Badi”, Basel’s traditional wooden Rhine-side baths, which combine a lively atmosphere with a timeless appearance.

The site is screened on two sides by an enclosing timber wall: on the north towards the road and on to the west from adjoining private properties. The southern perimeter facing the river, on the other hand, is open, bounded only by a green hedge. On the eastern front, a timber fence merges into the amenities building, which incorporates the entrance and supporting facilities, while the wall along the northern and western boundaries offers a 200 m long sheltered solarium with recliners. Yet, from all parts of the facility, attention is focused on the bathing pond at the centre of the site. The biological water treatment basins – the non-mechanical “heart” of the baths – are embedded in the sloping landscape on the opposite side of the road. Together with various leisure facilities provided here, they form a recreational area open all year round to the municipal population. In terms of ecological cleaning capacity, the baths are designed to accommodate 2 000 bathers per day.



  • Façade: Wood construction and facade: larch
  • Roof: Coated aluminium sheeting
  • Stone Floor: Lissone quartzite


  • Client: Gemeindeverwaltung Riehen, Riehen, Switzerland
  • Client Representative: Tobias Betschart


  • Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Wolfgang Hardt
  • Project Team: Michael Bär (Associate, Project Manager), Harald Schmidt (Project Manager), Sarah Righetti (Project Manager), Jeanne Autran, Nathalie Birkhäuser, Nils Büchel, Thomas Cardew, Judit Chapallaz-Laszlo, Dorothee Dietz (Visualizations), Guillaume Henry, Guy Nahum, Uta Schrameyer,Tobias Josef Fritzenwenger, Benno Lincke, Miguel Palencia Olavarrieta.


  • Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
  • Partner Architect: Rapp Arcoplan AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • General Planning: Rapp Arcoplan AB, Basel, Switzerland
  • Cost Consultant: Rapp Arcoplan AB, Basel, Switzerland
  • Electrical Engineering: Eplan, Basel, Switzerland
  • HVAC Engineering: Stokar + Partner AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Landscape Design: Fahrni und Breitenfeld, Basel, Switzerland, Wasserwerkstatt, Bamberg, Germany
  • Plumbing Engineering: Locher Schwittay Gebäudetechnik GmbH, Basel, Switzerland
  • Structural Engineering: Ulmann & Kunz Bauingenieur AG, Basel, Switzerland, Pirmin Jung, Rain, Switzerland
  • Other Specialists: Wasserwerkstatt Planungsbüro für Badegewässer, Bamberg, Germany
  • Timber Work: Pirmin Jung, Rain, Switzerland


  • Building Physics: Ehrsam und Partner, Basel, Switzerland
  • Civil Engineering: Gemeinde Riehen, Riehen, Switzerland
  • Geometrician: Jermann Ingenieure & Geometer AG, Pratteln, Switzerland
  • Geotechnical Consultant: Dr. von Moos AG, Zurich, Switzerland


  • Photographer: Iwan Baan


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