The MetroBasel Comic

ETH Studio Basel presents its study of Basel and its tri-national region as “MetroBasel Comic.” Based on a series of projects conducted by our urban research institute, the publication, in comic-book format, reveals the urban potentials of Basel’s city center and it surrounding Swiss, German, and French regions, and sketches out possible future visions for MetroBasel.


Composed of six thematic chapters, plus an introduction and a resumee, the comic-book is thematically structured through the adventures of the two protagonists Patricia and Michel (or Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Balmondo from the film “Breathless/ À bout de souffle”) whose experiences describe how the city and its region function as a site of living, working, learning and shopping. Through them, we explore how one can move through, relax and enjoy MetroBasel. Through this urban tale, we are not limited only to a description of the present situation of Basel, but we are also presented with possibilities, visions, and designs which could change and transform the region; the comic-book illustrates how new places could be created and where architectural and urban potentials can be found.


For us, the format of the comic-book serves as an ideal medium to portray urban research in that it allows—with its playfulness—the integration of descriptive narration with in-depth background information. While the abstract nature of urban research often finds little reception in the public realm, we serve to mitigate this perceived aloofness by mediating interest through an engaging comic-book narrative. Our intended goal is to attract as wide a readership as possible with the story of Patricia and Michel who move through MetroBasel, experiencing and perceiving its nuances in ways which are at times deeply scientific and objective, as well as romantic and dramatic.


Published in May 2009, MetroBasel Comic is a non-profit publication which will be distributed in MetroBasel and its trinational region. Published in German, French and English, the 304-page comic-book will be made available in regional kiosks, bookstores, and general sales points, as well as in international art and architecture bookstores. A Chinese edition of the comic-book was published in late 2009.


ETH Studio Basel is a Basel-based institute for city research directed under the Department of Architecture at the ETH Zürich. Founded in 1999 by professors Roger Diener, Jacques Herzog, Marcel Meili, and Pierre de Meuron, the studio conducts urban research projects on contemporary cities. Past publications include the four-volume “Switzerland: An Urban Portrait,” as well as “Open-Closed: Canary Islands”.


Manuel Herz

ETH Studio Basel

May 2009




Title: MetroBasel Comic

Publisher:  ETH Studio Basel

Idea and Concept: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Manuel Herz

Production: Manuel Herz, Ying Zhou



ISBN 978-3-909386-88-8 (German)

ISBN 978-3-909386-89-5 (French)

ISBN 978-3-909386-90-1 (English)

ISBN 978-1-936038-25-1 (Chinese)