Caruso St John Architects

Location: St Gallen, CH
Client: HRS Real Estate AG
Project Status: Competition, first prize

The site at the western approach to the city has a loose structure, with disparate buildings not supporting a specific urban identity. This is a place quite apart from the cohesive city fabric at the centre of St Gallen. The strategic corner site has the potential to signal the changes that are taking place on these previously industrial lands. Its prominent location has the potential to be a fulcrum around which the different buildings of the quarter can be brought together as a group.

The proposed new building occupies the full extent of the site with a strong volume facing outwards in all directions. The facades have two scales, with broad windows on the lower five floors, for shops and offices, and a finer, more vertical grain on the top three floors of apartments. This change in scale, and the setting back of the upper façade, gives the building a body and a head, connecting its volume strongly with the surrounding city buildings, at the same time as rising above them with a crown-like top. Seen from a distance, the building has a distinctive profile. At the top floors, deep recesses in the volume frame loggias and roof gardens, opening up panoramic views for the residents over the surrounding rooftops to the city centre and to the surrounding valley. The masonry walls have a textile-like delicacy and are clad in white tiles, giving the volume a light and airy appearance, an echo of the baroque architecture of St Gallen’s historic core.