District heating centre 2.0

Today’s voting results on the CO2 law made it clear once again – the city of St. Gallen is serious about its commitment to climate protection. The Energy Concept 2050 aims to reduce the city’s CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, therefore replacing fossil energies with renewables. The expansion of the district heating network is one of the more than 150 measures planned and already being implemented as part of the ambitious strategy. The municipal utilities of St.Gallen are constructing a series of new district heating centres within the city of St.Gallen as part of this strategy. The first of these centres is the Waldau district heating centre, which was completed in 2016. It will be followed this year by its “little brother”, the Lukasmühle district heating centre. It is the centrepiece for the development of the residential areas in the east of the city and is scheduled to go into operation by the end of 2021. The structure has been completed in the meantime, and the extensive technical installations are currently underway.

The similarity between the two buildings is unmistakable – the FWZ Waldau’s building design was virtually recycled, and this was done on purpose. Both buildings use an identical construction system, consisting of a prefabricated reinforced concrete frame structure, which is based on a 6.0 by 6.0 metre grid and can be extended in either direction. (Compared to the Waldau FEZ, the Lukasmühle FEZ has been shortened by 3 length grids). Prefabricated shed roof shells complete the uniform appearance. This type of construction was developed as part of a study commission in a collaboration between Thomas K. Keller Architects and the structural engineers from Lüchinger+Meyer. It forms the basis of a new generation of operational architecture for the St. Gallen public utility company.
As uniform as the exterior design of the buildings is, as different are their interiors. The staircases as well as the supporting structures for the technical installations in the halls are designed as steel constructions and differ considerably due to the specific plant components and resulting requirements.

(Photos: Beat Belser)