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Local News Summary of July, 4th

  • Thunderstorms over Basel: most buildings have no lightning conductor
  • Former financial administrator of the Shah of Persia died in Basel aged 115 
  • New fair «paper positions» draws positive conclusion after first exhibition 

Thunderstorms over Basel: most buildings have no lightning conductor

A lot of thunderstorms are unloading in our region this season. Luckily, a lightning conductor on the roof protects, one would think. However, this is false: most houses in Switzerland do not have one.

During the night of 28th May 2018, 9,329 flashes lit up Switzerland's night sky. This is a high number, considering that 250,000 lightning bolts hit our country on average every year. In Basel, the thunderstorms accompanied by thunder and lightning are also measurably on the increase. If there is no conductor, such lightning may strike the roof truss of a house. A total of 13 thunderstorm days were recorded over the Basel region in 2018 so far, and the month of May delivered an unusually high number of storms with eight thunder days, the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss stated. 

More than 90 per cent of buildings in Switzerland do not have lightning protection

Even though lightning protection systems offer the best protection against lightning and its consequences, Swiss law does not decree that lightning protection to be mandatory for most private residential buildings. As a result, according to hausinfo.ch, more than 90 per cent of buildings in the country (despite strict house regulations) do not have lightning protection. In Switzerland, the fire protection guideline «Lightning Protection Systems» of the Association of Cantonal Fire Insurances needs to be followed. According to it, cinemas, theatres, concert, and event halls, i.e. rooms with a large occupancy rate of more than 300 people, but also hotels, homes, hospitals, and prisons must be equipped with such a protection system. The same applies to particularly tall buildings such as high-rise buildings, chimneys, and towers as well as industrial and commercial buildings. 

Only a few residential buildings in Basel have lightning rods 

In Basel-Stadt, only 300 to 350 residential buildings have lightning protection, Lars Bohler, VKF specialist for lightning protection of the Basel-Stadt cantonal building insurance, told barfi.ch. When installing a lightning protection system, be it required by law or on a voluntary basis, the insurance company contributes a maximum of 50 per cent of the costs of the installation within the framework of its contribution regulations. The reason why lightning conductors are not required by law everywhere is justified on the basis of risk considerations, with an estimate of the probability of occurrence and effect of the lightning strike. He was considered the oldest inhabitant of Switzerland. Last Saturday, 30th June, Djafar Mohammad Behbahanian passed away in Basel.

Djafar Behbahanian was born on 14th December 1902 in Khorramshahar (Iran) at the Persian Gulf and studied economics at the American University in Beirut. Because his father was unable to continue paying tuition fees due to the sinking of his merchant ship, Mr Behbahanian had to return to Iran before completing his studies, where he trained to become a financial manager.

Working as vice court master and treasurer of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, he travelled a lot around the world. At the end of the 1960s, he also came to Switzerland, where he met his second wife Doris, who was 36 years younger than him, and lived with her in Teheran. The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978 forced Mr Behbahanian to leave the country. He came back to Switzerland and was granted the right to stay there. All in all, he lived in our country for forty years without ever adopting the Swiss nationality. 

He lived in a beautiful house with his wife, not far from Pauluskirche. «He was a perfect gentleman who took his hat off at every encounter on the street», a neighbour told barfi.ch. She also reports that files with valuable stones were stolen from the house of the Behbahanians in a burglary. Mr Behbahanian was seen at the Grand Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau in Interlaken with his wife from time to time. Journalists experienced the Shah's former closest collaborator as a very highly educated, exceptionally cordial person, who was also an excellent host and an exciting witness of historic events. 

New fair «paper positions» draws positive conclusion after first exhibition

After Berlin and Munich, the special trade fair for «Works on Paper» opened this June in Basel as well. In the former printing hall of the Ackermannshof, 26 galleries from nine countries presented discoveries and rediscoveries from the field of classical modern to contemporary art during Basel Art Week. 

«The overwhelmingly positive feedback for the fair by the city and the support from other trade fairs such as Photo Basel as well as Art Basel and Basel Tourism made the start easier for us. We were also able to present the trade fair to the media and the public right from the start. Our trade fair concept was met with great interest and approval from exhibitors and visitors», Kristian Jarmuschek and Heinrich Carstens, trade fair managers of «paper positions», stated.

The changes in the art market development were also a much-discussed topic in Basel. «paper positions» deliberately sees itself as a platform for small and medium-sized galleries first and foremost, and would like to give both established and young, up-and-coming galleries the opportunity to be represented at this important trade fair location.