Hirzen pavilion

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View over the swimming pool to the Hirzen Pavilion

The Hirzen Pavilion is a two-story glass building on the private Bäumlihof property in Riehen near Basel. It opened as a venue in 2003 and closed its doors to the public in late 2012.


The environment and its development

The villa to the Hirzen

The Hirzen Pavilion is located on the Bäumlihof estate, also known as Klein-Riehen since the beginning of the 18th century. The property emerged from a vineyard belonging to the Klingental monastery and had been in private ownership since 1575 at the latest. The first building - a vine house - was built on it in the second half of the 17th century. A few years later, in 1686, the first house followed, built by Samuel Burckhardt-Parcus. Since then, the majority of the estate has been inherited by the Burckhardt, Merian and Geigy families. After various purchases of land and extensions to the residential building, the Bäumlihof became a representative and luxurious upper-class summer residence including a farm. The wealthy Basel-born Samuel Burckhardt-Zäslin, who was renovating on a large scale, contributed to this. In 1735 he had a baroque French garden built in front of the gates of the residential and utility buildings as well as an avenue of lime trees - today's Kleinriehen-Promenade - as an entrance from the city. In 1738 a garden hall was built for festivities at the front corner of the courtyard.

In 1802 the French garden was converted into an English landscape park on behalf of the then landowner Samuel Merian-Kuder . The gardener Johann Michael Zeyher realized this within the regular layout of the baroque garden and kept the avenues framing the garden. At that time, the Bäumlihofgut comprised land as far as the banks of the Rhine. From 1842 the Bäumlihofgut belonged to Samuel Merian-Merian. He had the barn across from the garden room torn down and replaced it with an orangery; he also created a deer park with fallow deer.

The new owner from 1865, Johann Rudolf Geigy-Merian , had the garden room redesigned in a neo-baroque style and given a stucco marble facade. From 1876 to 1878 he had Johann Jakob Stehlin the Younger build a large representative manor house, which was demolished in 1951 in order to get closer to the original character of the Bäumlihofgut. In 1891 Geigy had Fritz Stehlin build a new house for his eldest son, the Villa zu den Hirzen, near the Hirschpark.

After the death of Helene Geigy-Schlumberger in 1947, the land and buildings were divided among the families and their descendants. From then on the Geigy family lived in the western part with the Villa zu den Hirzen; the older part with the landscape garden of the Vischer family. The city of Basel bought the northeastern part of the Bäumlihof area. After the large mansion was demolished in 1951, the 15 or so deer were given a log cabin as accommodation. The fence of the enclosure was replaced by a ditch, which reinforced the illusion that the animals were moving freely in the park.

From the deer enclosure to the pavilion

After the death of the then owner Rudolf Geigy in 1995, his son J. Rudolf Geigy took over the western part of the Bäumlihofgut. In 1996 it was decided to give up the deer park, whose animals were overbred. A renewal of the stove and system would have been necessary. Instead, the married couple J. Rudolf and Elizabeth Geigy planned something new: a lecture and concert pavilion for public use. “It should be a special place; refreshing and new, ”says J. Rudolf Geigy. In 2003 the “Hirzen Pavilion”, named after the deer that previously romped around this place, was ceremoniously opened in the presence of guests.

In the following ten years the program of events expanded; Art movements were combined and programs to promote young talent were developed. Simultaneously with the realization of the vision of the new, Geigy placed himself in the tradition of hospitality with the Hirzen Pavilion and making the private property accessible to the public, as it was already cultivated at the Bäumlihof in particular by Samuel Merian-Kuder and Johann Rudolf Geigy-Merian . The Hirzen Pavilion was closed to the public at the end of 2012.

Purpose and use

Concert hall of the Hirzen Pavilion with a view of the garden and the Villa zu den Hirzen


The Hirzen Pavilion, equipped with modern event technology and a grand piano, could be rented by companies, private individuals and organizers for various types of events. Numerous conferences and management meetings of the Basel pharmaceutical and chemical companies, photo shoots of various design and furniture stores as well as concerts took place, among others as part of the Basel festival "les muséiques - music in the museum". The Hirzen Pavilion was rented for weddings, the Versace fashion house rented a park and space for a presentation during the Baselworld watch and jewelery fair and the Dutch football team held an event in the Hirzen Pavilion during the 2008 European Championship.

Platform for promoting young talent in the cultural field

Talent promotion in the fields of music, literature and film has been carried out in the Hirzen Pavilion since 2007. For this purpose an in-house cultural association was founded in 2007; the "Association for private cultural maintenance on the Bäumlihof": The purpose of the non-profit association, which was dissolved at the beginning of 2013, was to preserve, enliven and shape cultural life on the Bäumlihof, in particular as an organizer of cultural, spiritual, scientific and social events. In cooperation with existing cultural institutions, cooperations should be developed in order to promote young talent working in the region. The presidium was held by J. Rudolf and Elizabeth Geigy, the management by Krista Järvensivu. Private individuals, companies and organizations as well as the patron J. Rudolf Geigy acted as financial sponsors.

Hirzen Pavilion Ensemble

The Hirzen Pavillon Ensemble with seven scholarship places is aimed at highly talented students at the Basel School of Music . It included a string quartet, piano, clarinet and a singing voice. The ensemble members received specific chamber music lessons as part of their university studies as well as from external musicians. The association supported the development of the ensemble musicians and organized their public and private appearances in the Hirzen Pavilion. A total of 18 selected students from the Basel School of Music practiced performing for up to three years each and received grants.

The various vessels of the Hirzen Pavilion Ensemble were called “Youngsters and Nostalgia”, “Hirzen Pavillon Ensemble Plus” and “Winter Concerts a piacere”. In this context, the scholarship holders carried out concert productions in collaboration with established musicians, with former ensemble scholarship holders and other guest music students or musical directors, and they also worked as program designers.

Earmarked financial support for the ensemble and the individual projects was provided by Bank Sarasin & Cie AG , Notenstein Privatbank AG and the August Pickhardt Foundation. The Association for Private Cultural Maintenance on the Bäumlihof received technical support in the selection of scholarship recipients for the musical funding programs from the University of Music of the Basel Music Academy .

Hirzen Book Prize

The Hirzen Book Prize was announced for the first time in January 2010. The literary competition was aimed at young people who write German (including dialect) between the ages of 18 and 35; Published or planned first publications of a narrative work could be submitted. The award was endowed with prize money of CHF 3,000. The sponsorship award also included a two to three week trip including hotel accommodation to one of the European Capitals of Culture .

The Zurich author Lea Gottheil won the first Hirzen Book Prize in 2010 for her novel “Sommervogel”, which describes the fate of women in the 1930s. In 2011, Markus Flohr from Hamburg won the prize with “Where Saturday is always Sunday”. In his novel, he processed his experiences of a year-long stay in Israel. The winner of the third and final Hirzen Book Prize is Elias Wagner . In “Vom Liebesleben der Mondvögel”, the man from Munich describes how a 15-year-old insect lover tries to cope with his father's deep crisis and, in addition, with his own needs. The finalists for 2010 were Julia Blesken with “I am a pack of wolves” and Julia Gäbel with “Pittys Blues”. In the 2011 final were Tino Hanekamp with “So Was von da” and Ulrike Almut Sandig with “Flamingos”. In 2012 it was Nina Bussmann with “Grosse Ferien” and Lisa-Maria Seydlitz with “Sommertöchter”.

The organization of the three literary prizes was financially supported by the municipality of Riehen and the private bank Clariden Leu AG . The Arena Literatur-Initiative Riehen offered technical support in founding the literature competition. The stage program for the awards ceremony took place in cooperation with Theater Basel .

Winner dinner

The “Winner Dinner” award in the Hirzen Pavilion for the winner of the “Gässli Film Festival”, which takes place annually in the Gerbergässlein in Basel and offers young directors and debut short filmmakers a presentation opportunity, was organized in 2011 and 2012. The association for private cultural maintenance at the Bäumlihof organized the event together with the Gässli Film Festival. With this platform for young filmmakers, the association campaigned to counter pleasant, superficial events with a serious and ambitious form of presentations and support. The winner dinner took place in the presence of invited guests.

The 2011 competition winners were Jan Mettler and Jan-Eric Mack with the film "Ronaldo", which shows a twelve-year-old boy playing football and comes up with impressive special and visual effects. In 2012 Felix Schaffert was invited to the winner dinner. His film "The Robber" is about child abuse and is particularly convincing due to the performance of the young actress Ella Huesler. The two winner dinners were financially supported by Dominick Co. Privatbank AG.

Architecture and artistic equipment


Twelve bronze fragments, part of the "Esther relief" by Rick Wienecke, adorn the wall along the path that leads to the Hirzen Pavilion.

The architects of the Bernese architecture firm Gauer Itten Messerli Architekten AG commissioned with the planning have created a simple building with the transparent Hirzen Pavilion, which experiences its tension through the overlapping of light, water, stone and glass. A fully glazed facade under a slightly cantilevered roof slab gives the building the appearance of a weightless, elongated pavilion. The lower floor with training, seminar and technical ancillary rooms is embedded in the ground and is surrounded on three sides by a light pit invisible from the park.

The facade is not just a shell, but with its expansions it forms spaces and zones inside the pavilion. This creates a delimitation and integration of the outside space into the interior at the same time. The fact that larger facade areas can be opened with lowered windows also contributes to this. In the interior, not only do the various functions of the lecture hall, media room and lounge overlap, but also the natural and artificial direct and indirect light, which constantly changes depending on the daytime situation and light intensity.

Probably the most obvious connection between the interior and exterior is the quartzite stone wall, which penetrates the glass facade from the park landscape at an acute angle. It divides the space and the building structure and guides the visitor across the water into the pavilion. The water that plays around the wall at various depths also continues into the pavilion.

Landscape architecture

The bushes and the ornamental fountain in the vicinity of the Hirzen Pavilion combine the feudal park culture a hundred years ago with modern architecture.

The far-reaching structural change in the park as a result of the construction of the Hirzen Pavilion is nothing new in the garden's eventful history. In particular, the coexistence of baroque and idealized natural elements from the design repertoire of the English landscape garden made it clear that the park always reflects the spirit of the times Has undergone changes. Therefore, the objective for the commissioned landscape architects Schönholzer + Stauffer from Riehen was to take into account the existing tension between the original and the modern in the recent intervention in the park substance. The generosity of the place was to be preserved and the exciting dialogue between the old and new structural elements in the park should be continued.

In order to merge the modern and historical garden elements with one another, new lines of sight and angles were included in the design concept. For example, ornamental cherry and ornamental apple trees were planted in the periphery of the pavilion to complement the expanses of the open fields. The structural garden elements of the southern part have been created from modern materials in accordance with the design concept of the pavilion. The surroundings of the villa and the northern part of the park, on the other hand, are basically based on the existing. Nevertheless, these areas were also given a new face with the spacious forecourt and the new driveway to the villa, the park extension to the north and the stream with its imposing source stone. Striking rose rondels, ornamental shrub borders and exotic potted plants set accents in the immediate vicinity of the villa and are reminiscent of the feudal park culture a hundred years ago.

Esther relief

The “Esther Relief” by Rick Wienecke, consisting of two bronzes and a glass mosaic, connects the exterior and interior of the Hirzen Pavilion.

Like the Hirzen Pavilion in general and the quartzite stone wall in particular, the Esther relief by the artist Rick Wienecke is designed as a connecting element of the interior and exterior. The work consists of three main parts: The first part consists of twelve bronze fragments attached to the low wall, which visitors to the pavilion pass on their way to the entrance. The second part is a large-format bronze relief that is installed on the high wall directly at the entrance to the pavilion, so that half of it is inside and half is outside. If the twelve bronze fragments of the first part were put together, a second identical relief would be obtained. The third part is a colorful glass mosaic right next to the bronze relief, which continues into the interior of the pavilion.

The subject of the work of art is the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament . The artist depicted Esther's intercession before King Ahasuerus for the salvation of the Jewish people and the answer to the intercession. The twelve bronze fragments stand for the events that lead to Esther's intercession and at the same time symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. The plot of the Book of Esther is symbolically represented on the large-format bronze relief. In the foreground, Esther can be seen in a humble manner. The third part of the work, the mosaic, is to be understood as the positive answer Esther received to her intercession.


  • Paul Koelner : Bäumlihof Klein-Riehen. A Basel estate and its owners. Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel 1953.
  • Paul H. Boerlin: "Basel Gardens - Bäumlihof". In: Voluntary Basel Monument Preservation 1965–1971. Cratander printing works, Basel 1972, pp. 3–32.
  • Anne Nagel: 'Nature and art lovingly mixed with one another'. The garden of the Bäumlihof in Riehen. In: utility and ornament. Fifty historical gardens in Switzerland. Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich 2006, pp. 96–101.
  • Silvia Hofmann: Historical gardens in Riehen: The Bäumlihof. In: Jahrbuch z'Rieche 1991, pp. 5-19 ( online ).
  • A touch of Hollywood in Riehen . In: Riehener Zeitung , No. 37/2011 (September 16, 2011), p. 5.
  • From the deer park to the culture playground . In: Riehener Zeitung , No. 34/2012 (August 24, 2012), p. 2.
  • From the alley into the pavilion . In: Riehener Zeitung , No. 36/2012 (September 7, 2012), p. 5.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The information on the history of the area around the Hirzen Pavilion - the Bäumlihofgut - and its development up to the 1950s comes from Koelner, p. 73, pp. 87-89 and p. 92f., Boerlin, pp. 14-32, Nagel and Hofmann.
  2. Cf. Riehener Zeitung 34/2012 of August 24, 2012, p. 2 and on traditional hospitality at the Bäumlihof Koelner, p. 87f.
  3. Joël Gernet: 2013, J. Rudolf Geigy. Sale of the villa “Zu den Hirzen”. Retrieved July 24, 2019 .
  4. See Riehener Zeitung 34/2012 of August 24, 2012, p. 2.
  5. On the promotion of young talent in the cultural field in general, cf. Riehener Zeitung 34/2012 of August 24, 2012, p. 2
  6. For the winner dinner, cf. Riehener Zeitung 37/2011 of September 16, 2011, p. 5 and Riehener Zeitung 36/2012 of September 7, 2012, p. 5.
  7. The information on the architecture of the Hirzen Pavilion comes largely from the responsible architectural office Gauer Itten Messerli Architekten AG.
  8. The information on the landscape architecture of the Hirzen Pavilion comes largely from the responsible company Schönholzer + Stauffer landscape architects BSLA.