In the course of the 19th century, buildings of the former Barfüsser and St. Magdalen Convents were demolished in Basel, Switzerland. In 1939, the old casino was demolished to make way for a new one, designed by architects Kehlstadt & Brodtbeck, and when the old theater was torn down in 1975, the resulting gap created a plaza for a new Theater, heralding the end of the former Cultural Mile. Of the original buildings, only the Kunsthalle, the Skulpturenhalle, and the Musiksaal survived.
The extension of the Stadt casino, Herzog & de Meuron explored a number of possibilities and variations for the extension of the Stadt casino Base for generating more space to house the additional facilities required. The Musiksaal theater had to be bigger than the existing core building of 1876. It would have to grow out of the old building as if it had always been there. So it was so important to design the addition, accommodating foyers, service facilities, rehearsal rooms, and dressing rooms, so that it appears, at first sight, to be in the same neo-Baroque architectural tradition.
The studios design is based on the rear façade of Stehlin’s building, which had long been largely hidden behind the old extensions. With digital technologies, they scanned the façade and reconstructed it to the original scale.
The solid masonry of the historical façade has given way to a façade of insulated, reinforced concrete with rear- ventilated cladding in keeping with contemporary building technology and climate control. The architects decided that wood would be the most suitable cladding and modified the geometry of the original façade just slightly to meet the structural requirements of that material.
When the Musiksaal was built in the 19th century, certain elements were made out of wood and then painted to match the design of the whole, like the seemingly massive cornice, which had been painted to look like the stone of the façade. The same applies to the columns inside, which had been constructed in wood or plaster because of the acoustics. They, too, were painted to look like stone.