On behalf of the City and Canton of St. Gallen, Calatrava undertook the transformation of the historic Neue Pfalz cellars into a site for cultural events, while relocating the canton's emergency services center into a single new building. For the cultural space or 'Art Gallery', Calatrava created a new, semi-circular, below-grade forum, which can be used for exhibitions, media conferences, concerts and lectures. It is placed on the central axis of the Klosterhof building to avoid negative impact to the medieval facade. For the Art Gallery, Calatrava also renovated and transformed two existing underground rooms: the 70-meter-long (230 feet) palace cellar, which can be entered through two large arched constructions are suitable for exhibition and reception events; and the court cellar, around 30-meter-long (98 feet), which can be reached through a subterranean passage and from an historic entrance in the monastery courtyard, is suitable for more intimate meetings and receptions.
The 24-hour, below-grade Service Center is a new building that integrate the canton's police department, fire department and emergency medical services in a single facility, located at the edge of St. Gallen's monastery precinct between the Klosterhof building and Moosbruggstrasse. The project occupies a highly sensitive location, since its immediate environs are a World Heritage Site: the Baroque cathedral and a monastery, which was founded in medieval times and now houses cantonal offices in its northern wing. The emergency services building is connected to the Karlstor (Karl's Gate), built in 1569/70: the only remaining outer gate of the city. The new buildings are designed to contribute to this environment. The siting of the Art Gallery centers this facility with respect to the longitudinal vaulted nave of the existing cellars. Access is provided by way of a ceremonial ramp, strategically placed in an angle of the public square above and fitted with a retractable metal gate. When closed, the slats of the gate are flush with the square and are scarcely noticeable, but it is visible when the gate is opened. The two existing rooms have been technically upgraded and sensitively renovated with new plaster and a false floor with sandstone covering.
The Service Center takes the form of a plinth, whose horizontal fluting counters the gentle inclination of Moosbruggstrasse as it runs down from Karlstor. With its protruding, elliptical, pitched-glass roof, the plinth has been conceived as a sculpture, set against the historic backdrop. The Service Center also acts as a visual link to the embankment surrounding the cathedral and to the old city wall. The demolition of subsidiary structures — undertaken as a result of this project — has restored clarity to the immediate area. Pre-fabricated concrete ribs cover the central working area like a dome, serving as a load-bearing structure for a roof with skylight. In this way, security requirements are met through the use of a conventional material, while enabling the staff to receive natural light during the day.
This skylight dome is covered by an external, operable brise soleil made of slender slats that are moved by two hydraulically powered, rotating arches. This brise soleil is at the level of the passersby who go through the Karlstor, making the roof an attraction at street level. A slat-like wood cladding, in which both acoustic insulating layers and air conditioning elements are integrated, surrounds the central working area and provides a comfortable atmosphere in the room. Working tables were designed in accordance with the same principle, making the furniture an integral part of the space.
1997 - 1999
9000 St. Gallen