Novartis Pavillon 2021, Switzerland, Basel

A zero-energy media facade

A media facade that generates its own electricity: The Novartis Pavillon features a network of translucent cells that are equipped with organic solar panels and LED elements. With subtle light shows created by renowned artists, the facade arouses curiosity and interest - and symbolically conveys the building's basic idea of promoting dialogue and openness.

To mark its 25th anniversary, Novartis is creating a public space on its campus in Basel, Switzerland. The Novartis Pavillon will be dedicated to shared learning, science, and the future of health care. The building's basic idea of promoting dialogue and openness is also reflected in its unique, zero-energy media facade. It consists of a network of more than 10,000 translucent cells equipped with organic solar panels and bi-directional LED modules. Using the electricity generated by the cells, the building is illuminated with direct and indirect light, depending on the time of day. With subtle light shows created by renowned artists on their interpretations of life sciences, the building communicates with the city, and arouses curiosity and interest. The Novartis Pavillon is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2021.




Building or project owner : Novartis Pharma AG

Architecture : AMDL CIRCLE, Blaser Architekten

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : iart

Structural engineering : formTL

Facade design : iart

Facade construction : iart

Kinetic engineering : n/a

Light design : iart

Technical layout light : iart

Display content/ visuals/ showreel : artists tbd

Light hardware (LED hardware) : custom development by iart

Lighting control software : TouchDesigner

Project co-ordination : Blaser Architekten, iart

Membrane skin : iart

Interaction design/ programming : iart

Project sponsor/ support : n/a

Pixel or other basic module/ elements : ARMOR solar power films GmbH


Facade type and geometry (structure) : The net-like membrane is attached to the sheet metal facade of the building. Rhombus-shaped organic solar cells are screwed into the mesh. The cells are translucent and have a blue-greenish hue. Of a total of about 10,000 cells that are attached to the building, around 7000 face outward and are thus equipped with LED modules.

Kind of light creation : Organic photovoltaics makes it possible to create media facades that meet both aesthetic and ecological requirements. Because organic solar cells are thin, flexible, semi-transparent and almost freely designable, they can be used to develop structures with a balanced or even positive energy consumption and a small CO2 footprint. At the Novartis Pavillon, the electricity generated by the organic solar cells is used to illuminate the building. Each cell facing outwards is equipped with two LED modules. The modules are bi-directional in the sense that there is one LED unit pointing away from the facade and one pointing onto the facade. Since the organic solar cells are translucent, the light shines through them. During daytime, the facade uses the direct light emitted by the forward-facing LEDs, while at nighttime, it is illuminated by indirect light.

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : The total resolution on the outer surface of the building is around 240 x 66 px.

Pixel distance : Pixel distance is approx. 40 cm.

Luminace : n/a

Urban situation : The building is located at the Novartis Campus in Basel, Switzerland. More precisely, it is situated in the existing park just next to the river Rhine and the bridge “Dreirosenbrücke”.

Description of showreel : The media facade is capable to show low-res scrolling text and video content. To be able to use its full potential, bespoke content is created for the facade by artists, featuring artistic interpretations of life sciences.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction