Station 2: The campus – From production to research

Until 2010, the Rhine port of Sankt Johann was located where the Novartis research campus lies today. Find out more about the transformation of the port area.

This was the site of Basel’s Rhine port (“Rheinhafen”) Sankt Johann, built between 1906 and 1911. It operated until 2010. In his paper “The expansion of large-scale navigation on the Rhine from Strasbourg to Basel" (Gelpke 1902), engineer Rudolf Gelpke proved that the Rhine was navigable all the way to Basel. This was confirmed in 1903, when a steamer sailed as far as the Middle Brige in Basel (“Mittlere Brücke“). Until then, the Rhine had been considered impassable between Strasbourg and Basel, as its straightening had increased the speed of the current.

The former port area becomes a research campus

A view of the port in Kleinhüningen ©Daniel Spehr

Only in 1914 did planning begin for a port in Kleinhüningen (where the port is still located today). The Sankt Johann port closed down in 2010 and its facilities dismantled. The riverside area was designated as common land and developed into a riverside pedestrian area as of 2014.

A view of the Novartis research campus with the riverside pedestrian walkway ©Julien Kauffmann

The premises of former chemical company Sandoz were located next to the port of Sankt Johann. Space became available, as production was increasingly outsourced. Novartis, which was created in 1996 further to a merger between Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz, has built a research, development and management campus on the site of the Sankt Johann port and the former Sandoz factory site. The company headquarters are also here.

Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, a professor at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, designed a master plan for the layout of the campus, to which world-famous architects contributed prestigious buildings.

With the opening of the Rhine walkway, the goal of the 3Land Project to “improve access and ensure uninterrupted access to the Rhine” was achieved. The Rhine is now once more accessible to the general public.

Esther Keller – Councilor, Canton of Basel-Stadt – on access to the Rhine (in German)