How an old bank was turned into the largest and best-known coffeehouse in Switzerland: A success story.
Where is there a need? What is meaningful and what is not? How can we design an establishment that directs its work towards actual, human needs?
The roots of unternehmen mitte lie in the following Basel cultural projects: Alte Stadtgärtnerei (1986-88), ZONE (1987-90), GEDANKENBANK (1988-90) Werkraum Schlotterbeck (1990-93), Werkraum Warteck (since1993) and unternehmen EPOQUE (1997-98).
The prospect of buying an extraordinarily beautiful villa with park in Basel paved the way to the founding of unternehmen mitte. That was in the summer of 1998. Thomas Tschopp and Daniel Häni operated unternehmen EPOQUE in the villa by means of an interim-use contract. However, at the close of the sales negotiations “we boys outbluffed ourselves” – and thankfully so!
For only three months later, on November 4th, 1998, the ownership of a much larger and much more interesting building could then change hands – the former headquarters of the Schweizerische Volksbank (the Swiss People’s Bank) in the centre of Basel. Together with the Edith Maryon Foundation, this stately building – at the time owned by Credit Suisse – could be acquired for the moderate price of CHF 10 million.
unternehmen mitte was founded as a private limited company on December 17th, 1998 by Georg Hasler, Thomas Tschopp and Daniel Häni and entered a 15-year quasi-property rental agreement with the Edith Maryon Foundation on December 31st.
The venture’s founding was a breakthrough in the Basel cultural movement. For the first time, a building could be secured not just for the purpose of interim use but by purchase with secured, long-lasting ownership rights. The Edith Maryon Foundation’s guarantee prevents the reselling of and any speculative transactions in relation to the building. The rent reflects the sum of all actual incurred costs including mortgage interest rates, loan interests, depreciation and maintenance costs.
Since 2012, the rental agreement has been indefinite.
New Year’s 1998/99:
Relocation from the „Villa Epoque“ to Gerbergasse 30
8. April 1999:
Remodelling and opening of the Fumare non Fumare bars
Remodelling of the 1st + 3rd floor co-working space
Opening of the coffeehouse
Remodelling of the health centers
New Year’s 2005/06:
Founding of the Basic Income Initiative
Portrait in the economics magazine: brand eins
Film premiere: Grundeinkommen – ein Kulturimpuls
Benjamin Hohlmann takes over management of gastronomy
OLOID-WOCHE – The ball gets rolling
Radio-Kulturcafé DRS 2 – Two weeks live from the coffeehouse
Installation of the STEINER LINE
Founding of the Kaffee-Akademie
Start of the Kaffee-Mobil at Marktplatz
Founding of Generation Basic Income
mitte-COLA is here
Portrait in the business section of ZEIT
Opening of Café Frühling in Kleinbasel
Swiss championship title in coffee brewing
1st place: Best of Swiss Gastro Coffee
Interview in the Süddeutschen newspaper
Partners of the GmbH were and are:
Daniel Häni (since1998)
Thomas Tschopp (1998-2014)
Georg Hasler (1998-2006)
Rembert Biemond (2001-2004)
Anton Marty (2001-2001)
Rainer Senn (2001-2010)
Carmen Bregy (2004-2006)
Tarik Nazari (2004-2007)
Benjamin Hohlmann (since 2010)