written by:
photos by:
October 12, 2011

Last month I traveled to Basel, Switzerland, a European city first founded during the Roman Empire and still boasting beautiful buildings constructed more than 1,000 years agos. In Touring Basel, Switzerland, Part 1, I explored the city's historic downtown, which is a mix of neo-Gothic cathedrals, knit graffiti, ancient bridges, and Richard Serra sculptures. In Part 2, we share the fun to be had in and around the Rhine and travel outside the city to the Vitra campus and the Laufen bathrooms factory.

One excursion that Dwell friend Luc Meier of <a href="http://swissnexsanfrancisco.org//">Swissnex San Francisco</a> highly recommended was climbing up the Münster cathedral. The climb cost four Swiss francs (a little over $4.30 US with current conversions
One excursion that Dwell friend Luc Meier of Swissnex San Francisco highly recommended was climbing up the Münster cathedral. The climb cost four Swiss francs (a little over $4.30 US with current conversions), which let me make my way up steep, winding stairwells to three observation decks. The views were unbelievable.
Photo by 
1 / 15
This view of the Münster is taken from the other side of the Rhine. The Romanesque and Gothic cathedral was built between 1019 and 1500 and dominates Basel's skyline.
This view of the Münster is taken from the other side of the Rhine. The Romanesque and Gothic cathedral was built between 1019 and 1500 and dominates Basel's skyline.
Photo by 
2 / 15
You can cross the Rhine in Basel in two ways: via the many bridges or on one of several ferries. The ferries use the current to push them back and forth along the river. Each ferry is attached by a long wire to another wire that spans the river about 30 f
You can cross the Rhine in Basel in two ways: via the many bridges or on one of several ferries. The ferries use the current to push them back and forth along the river. Each ferry is attached by a long wire to another wire that spans the river about 30 feet overhead. The captain angles the boat so that the water pushes it the direction he wants it to go. Eco and ingenious.
Photo by 
3 / 15
It's nearly impossible to walk more than five minutes in Basel without stumbling upon a water fountain. Each is unique and carefully sculpted, and all of the fountains offer clean drinking water, a happy respite for tired tourists. Some are even designed
It's nearly impossible to walk more than five minutes in Basel without stumbling upon a water fountain. Each is unique and carefully sculpted, and all of the fountains offer clean drinking water, a happy respite for tired tourists. Some are even designed for soaking your feet on hot days.
Photo by 
4 / 15
The most famous fountain in Basel is the Tinguely Fountain next to the Basel Theater. This funny fountain features a large, shallow pool with moving sculptures by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely that spit water in all directions and make sounds as the metal pa
The most famous fountain in Basel is the Tinguely Fountain next to the Basel Theater. This funny fountain features a large, shallow pool with moving sculptures by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely that spit water in all directions and make sounds as the metal parts clap the water.
Photo by 
5 / 15
A sense of play is tangible throughout the city. I spotted several ping pong tables next to one church and then saw this fooseball table in a park.
A sense of play is tangible throughout the city. I spotted several ping pong tables next to one church and then saw this fooseball table in a park.
Photo by 
6 / 15
Basel's best form of play, in my opinion, is swimming down the Rhine. This is a popular summer activity for strong swimmers and fortunately during my visit it was unseasonably warm so many locals were still frolicking in the water. The Rhine has a good cu
Basel's best form of play, in my opinion, is swimming down the Rhine. This is a popular summer activity for strong swimmers and fortunately during my visit it was unseasonably warm so many locals were still frolicking in the water. The Rhine has a good current to it and swimmers can walk upstream, hop in on the Kleinbasel side, and swim until they choose to get out along the stony banks anywhere from the start to three bridges later (before the river turns into an industrial port).
Photo by 
7 / 15
When hopping in the Rhine, you have two options: Leave your things on shore and walk back to them after your swim or carry them with you in a dry bag. I picked up this dry bag from a tourist counter in a local grocery store. I loved its design because it
When hopping in the Rhine, you have two options: Leave your things on shore and walk back to them after your swim or carry them with you in a dry bag. I picked up this dry bag from a tourist counter in a local grocery store. I loved its design because it folded into a messenger bag for the day (top) and then acted as a waterproof dry bag when I was ready to swim.
Photo by 
8 / 15
The trip from the furthest point upstream where you're allowed to swim down to this spot, where I got out of the water, took about 20 minutes. (You can go one bridge farther but I decided to play it safe). Since the weather was unusually warm for this tim
The trip from the furthest point upstream where you're allowed to swim down to this spot, where I got out of the water, took about 20 minutes. (You can go one bridge farther but I decided to play it safe). Since the weather was unusually warm for this time of year, plenty of people were out in the afternoons and evenings enjoying the sun, grilling on portable barbecues, and eating picnic dinners.
Photo by 
9 / 15
Next to the river was a great cafe housed in a shipping container, a now ubiquitous building material and solution.
Next to the river was a great cafe housed in a shipping container, a now ubiquitous building material and solution.
Photo by 
10 / 15
Though Basel boasts a big list of amazing museums, I was most excited to head to the Vitra Design Museum (shown here) and <a href="http://www.dwell.com/slideshows/touring-vitra-campus-part-1.html">Vitra campus</a> located in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, a 25-m
Though Basel boasts a big list of amazing museums, I was most excited to head to the Vitra Design Museum (shown here) and Vitra campus located in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, a 25-minute bus ride from Basel's city center. When I was there, the museum was showing a fantastic exhibit about modern design photographers Aldo and Marirosa Ballo titled Zoom. Frank Gehry's museum building is one of the earlier buildings on the Vitra campus, completed in 1989.
Photo by 
11 / 15
The most recent structure at the Vitra campus is Basel-based firm Herzog & de Meuron's VitraHaus. The building, which has the appearance of seven log houses stacked one on top of another, holds the entire Vitra furniture collection. Visitors are encourage
The most recent structure at the Vitra campus is Basel-based firm Herzog & de Meuron's VitraHaus. The building, which has the appearance of seven log houses stacked one on top of another, holds the entire Vitra furniture collection. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the pieces, and sales associates who work on the floors are happy to help sell you anything you see.
Photo by 
12 / 15
The campus is scattered with buildings by world-renowned architects commissioned for the site as well as several structures that were moved to Weil-am-Rhein. This small building was designed by Jean Prouvé in 1953 as part of a series of gas stations in Fr
The campus is scattered with buildings by world-renowned architects commissioned for the site as well as several structures that were moved to Weil-am-Rhein. This small building was designed by Jean Prouvé in 1953 as part of a series of gas stations in France and was transplanted to Vitra several years ago.
Photo by 
13 / 15
I finished my trip with a visit to <a href="http://www.us.laufen.com/wps/wcm/connect/LAUFEN_US/BASE/HOME/">Laufen</a> bathrooms to see its premier showroom and to tour its factory. Laufen has been manufacturing ceramics since 1892 and has collaborated wit
I finished my trip with a visit to Laufen bathrooms to see its premier showroom and to tour its factory. Laufen has been manufacturing ceramics since 1892 and has collaborated with companies such as Alessi to create distinctive, modern sinks, toilets, and tubs.
Photo by 
14 / 15
All of Laufen's products start as clay and water combined to make slip. After casting, drying, and glazing, the pieces are fired in a tunnel kiln that's center reaches temperatures of more than 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To see finished pieces and learn mo
All of Laufen's products start as clay and water combined to make slip. After casting, drying, and glazing, the pieces are fired in a tunnel kiln that's center reaches temperatures of more than 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To see finished pieces and learn more about Laufen, visit us.laufen.com. Discover more about Basel at basel.com.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Photo by 
15 / 15
One excursion that Dwell friend Luc Meier of <a href="http://swissnexsanfrancisco.org//">Swissnex San Francisco</a> highly recommended was climbing up the Münster cathedral. The climb cost four Swiss francs (a little over $4.30 US with current conversions
One excursion that Dwell friend Luc Meier of Swissnex San Francisco highly recommended was climbing up the Münster cathedral. The climb cost four Swiss francs (a little over $4.30 US with current conversions), which let me make my way up steep, winding stairwells to three observation decks. The views were unbelievable.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016
Modern small space Rhode Island cottage with landscaping and cedar cladding
Surrounded by nature, these cottages are tranquil retreats from the city.
February 03, 2016
The couple kept original touches, including the arch.
Historic archways belie these contemporary homes with physical reminders of each structure's storied past.
February 03, 2016
modern guesthouse in norway with angular facade and cutaway patio with spruce cladding and ikea chair
These houses make room for nature, not the other way around.
February 02, 2016
Modern kitchen with yellow sectioned walls and monochrome appliances
Whether it's a splash of color or bold strokes, this collection of interiors brightens up these homes.
February 02, 2016
Rust-washed concrete wall in Moscow apartment renovation.
This 590-square-foot apartment was stripped down to admit sunlight and dramatically reveal forgotten surfaces.
February 02, 2016
Nendo's collection of objects inspired by Star Wars
In a galaxy not so far away, Japanese studio Nendo has released a versatile collection of objects inspired by classic Star Wars characters.
February 02, 2016
Monti catered to his mother’s love of cooking by giving her ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratc
Sometimes the earthy colors and vivid grain of a wood like walnut is all you need to make a space.
February 02, 2016
renovated modern home in Austin interior kitchen
From California to Connecticut, these midcentury interiors still shine through thanks to the careful attention of architects and residents alike.
February 02, 2016
Outdoor dining area at a Saigon home.
A city home honors the local culture with communal outdoor space and reclaimed materials.
February 02, 2016