Herzog & de Meuron
Competition
1989
Project
1998-1999
Realization
2000–2002

The head office of Helvetia Patria insurance is located on top of the Girtannersberg, raised above the town of St. Gallen, and in the vicinity of other large building complexes.

The extensions by Herzog & de Meuron of the existing cruciform complex are designed to create a functional and contextual organism arranged around four distinctly different courtyards. The buildings added on to the end of the existing cruciform arms each vary in size and structural system in response to the respective topographic and urban context.

The first two of the planned extensions have finally been completed, many years after the competition of 1989. They are narrow, glazed structures oriented towards the city. The room-height windows, mounted with a slight twist of their vertical or horizontal axis, reflect the garden, the sky and the neighboring buildings, giving the façade a dynamic, kaleidoscopic appearance. Inside the building, each workplace enjoys a different spatial environment due to the slanted glazing in every window. Helvetia Patria in St. Gallen represents the attempt to manipulate an efficient, modernist, “Mies-ian” steel/glass structure in order to create both a more individual, more intimate atmosphere inside and a more complex architectural interaction outside.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2002

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Process

The existing 1970s building forms a large, sprawling volume on a sloping site.

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058_SI_8901_501
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168_CP_0101_516_HdM

The cruciform complex fragments the outdoor space. In their 1989 competition design, Herzog & de Meuron remedy this by adding blocks to form inner courtyards.

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058_CI_8905_501

The old design envisaged four airy glass structures.

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168_MO_000601_500
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058_MO_890101_501
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058_MO_890101_500

Tactile details: turned doorknob, silicone door handles, table legs, tentacle-like lamps.

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168_SA_0602_001_004-SAa
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168_DT_020101_500_table
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168_CP_0203_526_MS

By day, the office buildings seem to merge with the park, while at night they shine out like huge lanterns.

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168_CP_0204_514_MS

Separate and open-plan spaces, a canteen renovated in 1970s style and works by Thomas Ruff add distinctive touches.

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168_CP_0305_512_MS
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168_CP_0305_523_MS

Drawings

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168_DR_0202_502_crossection
168_DT_0212_503_sec_ov
168_DT_0212_503_sec_ov

Team

Facts

Client
Helvetia Versicherungen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Planning
General Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Architect Planning: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
Strucural Engineering: Grünenfelder & Lorenz AG, St Gallen, Switzerland
Mechanical Engineering: Thomas Baumgartner, Dübendorf, Switzerland
Electrical Engineering: Bühler + Scherler AG, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Landscape Design: Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, Zurich, Switzerland
Specialist / Consulting
Building Physics Consulting: Studer Bauphysik, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Acoustic Consulting: Lienhard Bau- und Raumakustik, Langenbruck, Switzerland
Facade Consulting: Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG, Münchenstein, Switzerland
Building Data
Site Area: 215'278 sqft, 20'000 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 46'284 sqft, 4'300 sqm
Number of levels: 5
Footprint: 9'687 sqft, 900 sqm
Gross volume (GV): 670'979 cbft, 19'000 cbm
Links
www.helvetia.com

Bibliography

Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001. The Complete Works. Volume 4.” Edited by: Gerhard Mack. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2008. Vol. No. 4.

Luis Fernández-Galiano (Ed.): “Arquitectura Viva. Herzog & de Meuron 1978-2007.” 2nd rev. ed. Madrid, Arquitectura Viva, 2007.

Nobuyuki Yoshida (Ed.): “Architecture and Urbanism. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006.” Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co., Ltd., 08.2006.

Hubertus Adam: “Gebrochene Wirklichkeit. Herzog & de Meuron. Erweiterung Hauptsitz Helvetia Patria, St. Gallen, 1999-2002.”
In: Verband freierwerbender Schweizer Architekten FSAI (Ed.). “Archithese. Zeitschrift und Schriftenreihe für Architektur. Swiss Performance 03.” Vol. No. 1, Sulgen, Niggli Ltd., 01.2003. pp. 10-15.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): “El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 1998-2002. La Naturaleza del Artificio. The Nature of Artifice.” Vol. No. 109/110, Madrid, El Croquis, 2002.

Wilfried Wang: “Herzog & de Meuron.” 3rd adv. and rev. ed. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 1998. (= Studiopaperback).

Location