Chipperfield and Fosters’ losing Basel bank designs revealed

The 68,000m² project will provide a single site to consolidate all BIS activities and staff – currently spread across Basel. Submissions were allowed to replace or rebuild a series of ‘aging and inefficient’ buildings on the site but had to retain the bank’s landmark Martin Burckhardt-designed tower which opened in 1977.

The two UK firms were among 11 international teams – including BIG of Denmark, local practice Herzog & de Meuron and Tokyo’s Kengo Kuma & Associates – competing to redesign the bank’s landmark headquarters.

Judges for the contest included ETH Zurich professor Sacha Menz; Beat Aeberhard, head of urban development and architecture of the Canton of Basel-Stadt; Louisa Hutton of Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton; and Monica Ellis, secretary general and head of general secretariat at BIS.


  • [WINNER] Elemental and Basel’s Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten (Chile/Switzerland)
  • Bjarke Ingels Group and Gruner (Denmark/Switzerland)
  • Boltshauser Architekten (Switzerland)
  • David Chipperfield Architects and Harry Gugger Studio (United Kingdom/Switzerland)
  • Dominique Perrault Architecture (France)
  • Foster+Partners and Skreinstudios (United Kingdom/Spain)
  • Herzog & de Meuron Basel (Switzerland)
  • HHF Architekten, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio and Inside/Outside (Switzerland/Mexico/Netherlands)
  • Kengo Kuma & Associates and FAB – Forschungs- und Architekturbüro (Japan/Switzerland)
  • Mecanoo International and Stähelin Partner Architekten (Netherlands/Switzerland)
  • SO-IL and Karamuk Kuo Architekten (United States/Switzerland)


It currently operates out of two premises in Basel: the Botta building on Aeschenplat and the tower headquarters building on Centralbahnplatz, which was the focus of the competition. The competition was held more than 20 years after Toyo Ito and Associates of Japan won an earlier contest though its vision to regenerate the tower was never implemented.

Santiago-based Elemental and Basel’s Nissen Wentzlaff Architekten won the contest in December 2022. However, the finalist concepts have only just now been revealed as part of a public exhibition within the complex.

The Bank for International Settlements is an international financial institution owned by central banks around the world and operates to foster collaboration on issues relating to financial stability.

The competition, launched in June 2021, sought concepts to redevelop the main campus of the international financial institution which ‘serves as a bank for central banks’ and occupies a site next to the Swiss city’s main train station.