Novartis Campus - Physic Gardenhttp://www.shapedscape.com/media/reviews/photos/original/55/98/2f/novartis-101-10-1408843624.jpg
The Physic Garden designed by landscape architect Thorbjörn Andersson of SWECO Architects was comissioned by Novartis Pharma in 2010 as part of an extensive redevelopment of the pharmaceutical giant's campus.
The Novartis Campus is situated in Basel, Switzerland, on the river Rhine that forms the border with France. A pharmaceutical company of international scope, Novartis is currently implementing a major building program to create a research campus characterized by extraordinarily high design quality. Many internationally known architects, such as Frank O. Gehry, Tadao Ando, Álvaro Siza, have participated in this project, commissioned to design buildings sited on individual blocks of a master plan designed by the Italian architect and urban planner, Vittorio Lampugniani. The goal is to establish a research environment graced with outstanding qualities to attract a team which will perform at a similarly high level.
One of the campus blocks has been designated as an open space that hosts a Physic Garden, which displays plants important to the development of the pharmaceutical industry. In that sense, the Physic Garden can be said to represent the cradle of the company´s products and the soul of its activities.
The Physic Garden consists of two parts: the garden and the grove. The grove refers to a Celtic settlement that once existed in the area and whose druids gathered most of their medicinal ingredients from the woods. The garden, on the other hand, relates to the monastery garden where monks developed knowledge about the pharmaceutical substance in plants, a knowledge that provided the foundation for today´s research efforts.
The grove consists of a double row of gingko trees that add shade and green volume to the work environment. Aligned between the trees are a recessed water rill, for sensual pleasure and seating for rest.
The open, sunnier part of the garden is organized as a theater, with a backdrop of yew (Taxus) and hornbeam (Carpinus) hedges with different heights that lead the visitor toward the center in a zig-zag movement. These walks function as herb galleries lined with movable planters, containing non-hardy plants. At the center of the garden a sunken planting bed holds 32 of the most important pharmaceutical plants organized in a pattern of stripes. The sunken plant bed and its frame add to the preciousness of the composition, and viewed from above, the bed reads as a colorful and textured painting or a carpet. Bridges of light construction span the sunken bed, permitting visitors a closer examination of the plants, each of which is labeled with an engraved bronze bar mounted at the edge of the bed.
On the sides of the sunken bed are four "log racks". A collection of logs stacked in piles whose forms complement the screens of hedges. The types of wood selected represent species from which chemical substances have been extracted and used in the pharmaceutical industry. A series of amphora-like drinking fountains, designed by the Swedish artist Pål Svensson, provides water for the visitors and another dimension to the garden.
All in all, 83 plant species are on display in the Physic Garden.
Photography, images and text provided by the Landscape Architect, Thorbjörn Andersson.