Home Out & About Excursions The Goetheanum, a building like no other
Last update on February 12, 2020

You won’t find a single 90-degree angle in Switzerland’s architectural marvel, The Goetheanum, located a train ride from Basel.

Switzerland isn’t just about wonderful medieval buildings – though there are plenty of those. It also has some great examples of modern architecture. I went off into the countryside near Basel, armed with my Swiss train pass. I wanted to see a rather remarkable building designed by Rudolf Steiner: the Goetheanum.

Completed in 1928, it was the first large-scale building to use reinforced concrete for sculptural forms. At least that’s what it says in the brochure, which makes it sound like some sort of grim multi-story car park.

The outside may be grey but the interior colors are imaginative, particularly in the stairwell that changes colors as you ascend. Even more unusual is that Steiner avoided using any 90-degree angles. You can look at the detail on the roof, doors, windows, and lights to see that, or the way the pink entrance hall slopes gently upwards to soften all the angles.

Goetheanum

The Goetheanum is home to the General Anthroposophical Society, which is as hard to understand as it is to say. As far as I can gather, it’s about spiritual enlightenment, human consciousness, and cross-cultural awareness.

Suffice to say that its home in Dornach is one of the most interesting places I’ve been to in Switzerland. It’s not only the Goetheanum itself, which is actually a concert hall; there’s also memorable buildings around it, such as the Heizhaus, built to resemble flames and house the boilers.

All this is only a tram ride from Basel.