Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
St. Gallen, Switzerland
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
The existing 1970s building forms a large, sprawling volume on a sloping site.
The cruciform complex fragments the outdoor space. In their 1989 competition design, Herzog & de Meuron remedy this by adding blocks to form inner courtyards.
The old design envisaged four airy glass structures.
Tactile details: turned doorknob, silicone door handles, table legs, tentacle-like lamps.
By day, the office buildings seem to merge with the park, while at night they shine out like huge lanterns.
Separate and open-plan spaces, a canteen renovated in 1970s style and works by Thomas Ruff add distinctive touches.
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).