Webersbleiche housing and commerce
Waisenhausstrasse, 9000 St.Gallen
Competition, 1st Prize 1995 (with Marcel Ferrier Architekten)
HRS and Swiss Re
ARGE with Marcel Ferrier Architekten
Nänny + Partner AG, St.Gallen
B+B Engineering, Wil
René Hornung, Werner Huber: St.Gallen baut. Ein Führer zur zeitgenössischen Architektur. Edition Hochparterre, Zürich 2014.
On the western edge of St.Gallen’s old town, where the urban structure gradually becomes more heterogeneous, the Webersbleiche occupied an entire city block. Apart from its large horizontal expanse, the flat brick building once resembled a courtyard building. Today, a four-storey building with an urban character stands in its place. The lower two floors and the first basement level are occupied by shops, a department store and supermarket, while the top two floors are occupied by rented apartments. The stacked arrangement of the two uses can be clearly read in the facade. The two-storey plinth building evokes the dimensions of the previous building, which gave the area its name. More
In the central court of the shopping centre, the aluminium ceiling membrane gives the interior of the commercial building its own distinct character. The large-scale textile ceiling pattern above the interior brings a tension full of character to the centre of the complex by means of patches of light and shade. These patterns are also transferred through applied stencil painting to the exterior and enhance the building entrances, as well as functional places such as the delivery area and garage exit. The rational and geometrically stringent building is thus given a soft, organic complement both outside and in.
The varied apartment plans are brought to life by the interior atriums, terraces and loggias to the alley spaces. The precise urban placement of the rectangular building creates open street spaces. The structure of the building is also immediately striking, consisting of a screen-like, solid plinth structure and a transparent superstructure that because of its reflections appears light. The filigree concrete lattice of the base, in which large shop windows and the striking entrances are set, gives the department store its own characteristic expression. This is especially true at dusk and at night, when the velvety light that illuminates the public alleyways streams out of the lattice and the shop windows.
The building’s upper structure, which is stepped back towards the supporting structure, is intended to contrast with the plinth to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the viewpoint and the lighting conditions. In the alleyways, it sometimes almost appears to dissolve due to reflections and seems light and permeable to the surrounding buildings, with an impression of depth. This intention is supported by structuring, variably placed main courtyards around the edge of the main building, especially on the upper residential floor, where open terraces interrupt the contour of the roofline.