Oppenheim Architecture designs a Swiss water purification plant with a twist

water purification plant oppenheim architecture
USA based firm Oppenheim Architecture is behind a rather different water treatment plant in Muttenz, Switzerland.
(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

The Swiss municipality of Muttenz now has a water purification plant with a twist. Far from the traditional industrial facility that remains off-limits to the members of the public, this innovative treatment centre is a truly interactive experience, and open to all by appointment – and who could resist taking an informative tour of how a modern facility of its kind works?

Combining technology, education and preservation, the building, designed by Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture, is swiftly becoming a new landmark for the wider Basel area. The plant’s sculptural form is distinctive. The architects aimed to work with materials that blend harmoniously with the surrounding environment; strengthening the structure’s message of sustainability along the Rhine River waterfront. 

water purification plant oppenheim architecture

The facility's distinctive, sculptural form is becoming iconic for the area.

(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

At the same time, the design had to address practical issues such as upkeep and a meaningful connection with its surroundings. Low maintenance, tactile shotcrete (concrete sprayed on a surface through a hose) was used for the façade and roof in order for the design to feel natural and be able to take on patina and mature together with its setting among protected woodland.

Bridging state-of-the-art technology with existing ecosystems and producing potable water of the highest standard, this project, led by practice director Chad Oppenheim, highlights exactly how iconic architecture can be both subtle and work with nature. 

water purification plant oppenheim architecture

This water purification facility has been designed to be open to all by appointment

(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

water purification plant oppenheim architecture

The structure’s defining exterior was made using shotcrete (concrete sprayed on a surface through a hose).

(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

water purification plant oppenheim architecture

The architects wanted the design to blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings

(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

water purification plant

And of course, the plant produces potable water of the highest standard. 

(Image credit: Oppenheim Architecture/Leon Huesler/Aaron Kohler)

INFORMATION

For more information visit the Oppenheim Architecture website (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).