Modern Architecture in Basel

Basel and its environs boast buildings designed by seven winners of architecture’s Pritzker Prize. Most of those winners – Frank Gehry, Álvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron – have works over the German border in the Vitra Design Museum at the Vitra Campus.

Several works by local firm Herzog & de Meuron are more central. The Basel-based company is renowned for designing London’s Tate Modern gallery, Beijing’s Olympic Stadium and Tokyo's Prada Aoyama building. In Basel, along with the Schaulager and the stadium at St Jakob Park, you’ll find less gargantuan projects, such as the matte-black Zentralstellwerk and the surprising glass Elsässertor near SBB Basel station, and the revamped Volkshaus Basel on Rebgasse in Kleinbasel.

Another Pritzker laureate, Italian architect Renzo Piano, is responsible for the Fondation Beyeler, while Ticino architect Mario Botta designed the striking Museum Jean Tinguely.

Worth a Trip: Rheinfelden

Home to the Feldschlösschen Brewery, Rheinfelden (population 13,337), 18km east of Basel on the south bank of the Rhine, has a pretty, semi-circular Altstadt (Old Town). Several medieval city gates, defensive towers and parts of the old walls still stand. The triangular Messerturm (Knife Tower) is so named because it once contained a shaft lined with knives: anyone thrown in would be sliced to bits.

Rheinfelden's main street, Marktgasse, is lined with shops, restaurants and the occasional tavern. At its western end, an early-20th-century bridge crosses the Rhine to Germany. Midway across you'll find the Inseli, a once-fortified island in the middle of the Rhine and a popular spot for swimming. Sleepy border posts anchor both ends of the bridge, but passports are rarely checked.

Rheinfelden is a short train ride from Basel (Sfr8.60, 11 to 17 minutes).