How did SRF’s new studio location in the Meret Oppenheim high-rise building come about?

How did SRF’s new studio location in the Meret Oppenheim high-rise building come about?
20 June 2019, Maja Ristic in conversation with René Schell

How did SRF’s new studio location in the Meret Oppenheim high-rise building come about?

In May 2019, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) moved into its new studio space in the 81-metre-high Meret Oppenheim high-rise (MOH) building in Basel, as the building’s first tenant. René Schell, lead project manager of the new studio location in Basel and staff manager of the Culture department at SRF, explains in an interview how the new location came about and what it means for SRF.

How did renting the studio space in MOH come about?

Finding a new, centrally located studio in Basel has been on the cards for a long time now. The decision was made in 2011 when Radio DRS and Schweizer Fernsehen SF were merged. The result of this merger was, as you know, SRF. But we didn’t just want to create a new studio in Basel – we also wanted Basel to be home to all SRF’s cultural news departments in the future: television, radio and online. We’ve been able to do this at MOH.

Which criteria in the selection process led to the choice of MOH?

When we started searching for a new studio location in Basel in July 2013, we had two key conditions in mind. The most important was that the new studio had to be within five minutes’ walking distance from the SBB train station.

Secondly, it had to be possible to build radio studios, which is easier said than done. This is because, for acoustic reasons, you need a clear room height of at least four metres, which is really hard to find. But MOH was able to meet both of these conditions. A stroke of luck.

What role does the surrounding area play for you, in your case, the proximity to Basel train station?

As I mentioned earlier, this was a priority. We knew that over a hundred employees who had previously worked in Zurich would have to commute to Basel in future. When looking for a studio location, this meant that the closer it was to the train station, the better.

There was also a second, more far-reaching reason: overall, SRF Culture is one of the largest cultural news departments in Switzerland – and it’s one of the most important cultural producers in the country too. We also want to make this visible and perceptible with the new location in MOH.

The auditorium plays a major part in achieving this goal, as it is used for public events and public productions by SRF, as a location for encounters and discussions, exchange and public participation. For these aspects too, the location near the station and proximity to public transport is essential.

In which future project are you currently investing most of your time?

Like all media companies, both public and private, SRF is undergoing a process of transformation. The buzzword is digitalisation. The use of our content is changing rapidly and radically. Our content is increasingly being used online, on all available channels and platforms, and at any time.

At the same time, the number of providers is growing astronomically and we also have to make do with less money. This changes pretty much everything: the planning and production of content as well as its distribution, dissemination and the handling of resources.

In MOH, we have essentially laid the spatial and technical foundations for this. For employees, this does not only means new work spaces in MOH, but also new equipment, new job profiles, new workflows and a new way of working together. It’s also important that, amidst all these changes, we don’t lose sight of the content and quality of what we offer, so we’re always learning, developing and improving. And managing all of this is part of my role at SRF’s Culture department.

SRF studio, Basel – opening event.

Interested members of the public can take a look at SRF’s new studio space in the Meret Oppenheim high-rise building at the event to mark the opening of SRF’s studio in Basel on Saturday, 22 June 2019.

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René Schell
René Schell
René Schell has been a lead project manager at SRF for the new studio location in Basel for six years. Before this, he worked for 20 years as a programme-maker for SRF and held a variety of management roles, including Head of News for radio information in Bern. He has been staff manager of SRF’s Culture department since the beginning of May.

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Maja Ristic
Maja Ristic
Maja Ristic has worked for SBB Real Estate since 2005. She is currently head of the Management of Investment Properties department for the Central Switzerland region. She has 15 years’ experience in real estate marketing and management and in project development for the implementation of tenant requirements for office, catering, retail and residential use. Maja Ristic is a qualified real estate trustee with further training in leadership.
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