Swissbau Basel: the most important „building and architecture city” in Switzerland and Europe for five days
Even after forty years, the anniversary edition of Swissbau still succeeded in impressing the industry once again. Anyone who travelled to Exhibition Square over the past five days would scarcely have been able to believe their eyes. What was on show here, together with the new hall complex from internationally renowned architects, Herzog & de Meuron, was truly world class. In the four themed halls, the more than 100 000 professional visitors and private individuals interested in building were able to obtain the customary up-to-date and compact view of innovations, trends and solutions amongst the 1100 or so exhibitors and also to foster contacts in personal discussions – something that is impossible in such great depth and breadth at any other venue. And leading politicians, including Ruedi Lustenberger, President of the Swiss National Council, and Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard used Swissbau as a platform to engage in a dialogue with the industry associations and their membership and take key projects forward. Swissbau is, and is thus set to remain, Switzerland’s leading industry platform for the construction, energy and architecture scene in Switzerland and one of the most significant building fairs in Europe.
Even if media attention in Switzerland has been predominantly focused on the WEF in Davos over the past few days, it was quite clear in the halls at Messe Basel that a sector was meeting up that is of major economic relevance for the country. This is because overall building activity continues to remain at a record level, at an estimated 58 billion Swiss francs. The industry is thus making a particularly important contribution towards ensuring that the Swiss economic climate remains positive in overall terms. The number of jobs in the construction industry, and especially in the finishing trades, has risen continually over the past few years. And the fact that the industry was not simply wishing to celebrate itself at Swissbau, but is looking for ways and means of ensuring the sustainable development of Switzerland, was evident from the 1100 exhibitors with their products and services and the debates that were held in the Swiss Focus arena. At more than 50 events, discussions and negotiations – which at times proved to be quite fierce – were staged on the topics of the Energy Strategy 2050, training, densification and the lifecycle of buildings.
An important networking platform for politics, business and education
„At Swissbau, over five days, I can foster more relevant contacts and engage in more interdisciplinary talks and debates than I can otherwise do in four months,” is what Stefan Cadosch, President of the SIA – Switzerland’s leading planning association, had to say about Swissbau. And Ruedi Lustenberger, President of the Carpenters' Association VSSM and currently, as President of the National Council, the person with the highest office in the country, stressed in his words of welcome from Bern at the opening event just how important the building industry is for implementing the Energy Strategy 2050. He urged those present to engage in even greater discourse with each other.
Training now becoming an issue for management
Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard also travelled to Swissbau in Basel in order to discuss and adopt a package of measures with the leading associations at the very first „Conference on Energy Education”. This package will be providing 40 million Swiss francs in the years to come in a bid to ensure that Swiss companies are better positioned internationally in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies. The money provided is to be used as of now to provide specialised personnel with even more specific training so that they can meet the requirements. Although knowledge is available, the sector was in agreement that it is not yet being used sufficiently in the practical planning and implementation of buildings. The „EnergieSchweiz” (Energy Switzerland) education initiative is setting out to accelerate this transfer of knowledge and boost it in quality terms.
Future architects and reconciling the demands of architecture, teaching and business
On Wednesday, the traditional Swissbau Future Forum was staged for the first time under the auspices of the Federation of Swiss Architects (BSA). Paul Knill, Sacha Menz, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani and Winy Maas addressed the question of „what the professional profile of an architect will look like in future”, adopting completely different perspectives. To sum up, it can be said that planners must be „intellectually educated” today and, above all, be capable of „dealing professionally with their own time” and of „recognising and maintaining architectural values on the basis of their sphere of knowledge and influence. Not least, however, they should also be „generalists, specialists and craftsmen”. On the Saturday morning, almost at the end of the exhibition, near on 1000 visitors once again came to the architecture lectures that have been organised by the Architektur Dialoge Basel foundation for the past 30 years. With Richard Horden, Bijoy Jain and Jakob Lange from Bjarke Ingels Group, three completely different architects of international renown engaged in a discussion on the topic of „Arch-Tec: design and the reality of building”.
Anyone who builds wants to go – not only visitors and the media – but especially the leading companies from Switzerland and abroad
Not only the visitors and representatives of the specialist media praised the anniversary edition of Swissbau. The exhibitors from the fields of building shells, technical systems for buildings, interior fittings and also concepts and planning were also highly delighted by the way the exhibition went – as their most important platform for contacts and innovations. The high quality of the visitors received particular praise. Exhibitors in the new complex made use of the additional hall height, impressing visitors through generously-dimensioned and sophisticated stand concepts which served to underline the eminent reputation of their products and services. In the field of interior fittings, the Bathroom and Kitchen Trend sections once again showcased the latest trends in a breathtaking manner.