A new library for the city and canton St. Gallen is to be built at the Union/Blumenmarkt location in the city of St. Gallen, replacing the current temporary and decentralised facilities. In the future, the cantonal and city libraries are to be merged operationally and spatially. Within the framework of a competition, designs were developed for a modern library equipped to meet the requirements of the future in the sense of a “public library”, which combines the diverse services and uses under one roof in a synergy-rich and functionally coherent manner.
The project proposal developed by E2A Piet Eckert and Wim Eckert Architects in collaboration with Lüchinger+Meyer was awarded 2nd place. The designers chose “Guy Montag” as the project’s title and powerful symbolic companion. The main character from Ray Bradbury’s famous novel “Fahrenheit 451” discovers the “forbidden” love of literature in a totalitarian system and becomes a preserver and defender of books. The design of the very same name provides for the “welcome strategy of preserving and upgrading the main and wing buildings of the Union Building”. This will be accompanied by an eight-storey, tower-like new building that integrates a variety of the desired uses.
The simple and clear supporting structure makes a significant contribution to structuring the spatial fabric of the building. In analogy to the existing buildings of the ensemble, it is an efficient skeleton structure in solid construction, which is stabilised by a solid access core. The floor slabs are flat slabs made of cast-in-place concrete and supported by prefabricated mushroom-shaped columns. Ceilings and columns remain largely visible. The mushroom-shaped columns reduce their dimensions from floor to floor according to the loads. Thanks to the mushroom heads of the columns, the slabs can be kept relatively slim.
According to the jury, the Guy Montag project stands out “because it develops specific, customised solutions to many aspects.” The recognisable effort to place questions of sustainability in the conceptual focus was also explicitly acknowledged. On the structural side, this issue is addressed in particular by limiting CO2 emissions through a consistent reduction of the reinforced concrete supporting structure. This is promoted by system separation and straight-line load transfer. In addition, care was taken to ensure that many components can be made of recycled concrete.
The 29 competition projects can be viewed at the St. Gallen Main Post Office until 3 July 2021. (Informations)