Slab Edge Safety: 178-m Skyscraper being climbed with MGS Guided Screens

Project: Roche Tower, Basel, highest building in Switzerland, 

Contractor (and Architects): Marti AG Bauunternehmung

MEVA Systems: Automatic climbing MAC, slab formwork MevaDec, wall formwork AluStar,  MEVA Automatic Climbing MAC, MEVA Guided Screens MGS, Wall formwork Mammut 350

Formwork Engineering:  MEVA Formwork Systems, Haiterbach, Germany and Seon, Switzerland

© Herzog & DeMeuron
© Herzog & DeMeuron
© Herzog & DeMeuron


Hydraulic Automatic Climbing on the Roche Tower in Basel

Fast and Safe Climbing

The tower “Bau 1” will be the new main entrance to Roche’s headquarters in Basel. It is being built by Switzerland’s leading construction company, Marti AG. When completed, the tower will be 178 m high. It will have overtaken the Zürich Prime Towers (126 m) as the highest building in Switzerland.

The tower has passed the 130 m mark. Every 8th day another level is added until there will be 41 storeys with space for 2,000 employees. The building was designed by the architects Herzog and de Meuron from Basel.

Safety is a key issue with Roche. Only trained, qualified staff are permitted to enter the construction site. Safety controllers are present constantly to check the adherence to strict safety regulations.

The tower is being climbed using MEVA‘s automatic hydraulic system MAC. With its completely closed platform it provides a safe working environment even at great heights. The Roche tower‘s tapering geometry was the foremost challenge for the formwork engineers.

The lifting process is very gentle and smooth, so that the workers hardly notice it at all. The site is located in the  middle of Basel city and allows very little space. This is why everything has to be delivered pre-assembled.

Furthermore, the construction site is accessible from one road only, with the result that the climbing units must be brought to their location directly from the truck. For that to happen safely and quickly, MEVA engineers developed a special articulated lifting arm. It enables the unit to be lifted into a vertical position and then be flown to its destination with a single crane lift.


Building & Safety Officers join Forces

Slab Edge Safety: 178-m Skyscraper being climbed with MGS Guided Screens

Tower 1, the new main entrance to the Roche headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, has passed the 160 m mark and is climbing fast toward its final height of 178 m.  

From the beginning, construction professionals consulted with safety officials to discuss and pinpoint all details of the strict safety concept for the job. Early on, it was clear that a completely enclosed working platform from the first to the last level would be in the interests of worker safety. MEVA’s rail guided screens system MGS is being employed instead of scaffolding. It is assembled on the ground and protects workers during slab works at all heights, especially at the slab edge. 

The tower’s core is being climbed using the automatic climbing system MAC. Like the MGS, it has a fully enclosed working platform and offers all-around worker protection during work on the walls and cores, especially at great height. A special feature of the MAC adds to the safety benefit: the climbing unit rests in concrete that has already set, adding to a smooth, safe lifting process. The cores climb ahead while the slab works, protected by the MGS, follow immediately after. The tower is climbing at a pace of one level every 8 days, adding 4 m to its height.  

In order to save crane time, the MGS guided screens units are lifted one after the other by two synchronised hydraulic jacks. After the lift, the jacks are removed within seconds, placed on a trolley and moved to the next unit together with the hydraulic power pack. There, the jacks are fitted to the climbing unit equally quickly and the next climbing lift can start. Guide shoes that can be adjusted lengthwise ensure that the guide rails fit smoothly and safely when docking into the guide shoes on the next level up. The extension of the guide shoes can be set to millimetre accuracy and be adjusted during the lift.  

Since the bearings holding the guide shoes can be unlatched, the lifting load can be directed to selected guide shoes. This option is used when climbing the working platforms of the MGS units. The Roche tower tapers as it  gains in height, reducing the footprint. To accommodate this, one MGS unit is removed after each climb, reducing the perimeter.  

Since the access roads are very narrow, careful delivery plans have to be followed. 30 % less truck loads are the result of concrete being produced locally. As the tower climbs, work on the interior is progressing fast.  

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