Institutes of Pathology and Forensic Medicine St. Gallen
The Pathology and Forensics Institutes occupy a compact, introverted building in the landscaped grounds of St. Gallen`s Cantonal Hospital. The building lies at the intersection of two urban zones facing in different directions: the Cantonal Hospital and the St. Fiden district. The design is based on two squares set obliquely to each other, which gives rise to the overlaps, intersections, and sunken gardens in the project.
The square is a symbol of order and solidity and an element that lends order to the design. This basic form is repeated throughout the structure at different scales from large to small. The square structure is built up in concentric layers. The center of the floor plan is a lounge area lit by a light shaft, a radiant body that functions as the floor's point of orientation. Laboratories and working areas form the outer layer. As the interior space is column-free, the building is functionally very flexible and can be easily adapted to changing needs. Laboratories, offices, training and examination rooms and the underground parking garage are housed in the same structure. The laboratories are freely partitioned in a grid spacing of 1.50 m; the building's mechanical and electrical systems are independent from the laboratories. The utilities are distributed from the encircling corridor.
The aluminum facade gives the complex spatial structure a uniform appearance. An outer, protective metal skin is incised and metal sections folded out to reveal a second, glass skin. The folded-out metal elements function as fixed brises-soleil that take into account the course of the sun, thus combining optimum sun-screening with a maximum incidence of light in the interior spaces. The building envelope as spatial filter conveys vision and distance. The light: brises-soleil - play of shadows - reflections. Light is the phenomenon that links the floors and the spaces.
The light for the autopsy unit in the basement comes through sunken courtyards; the intimate character of the rooms is underscored by their own green spaces.
The compact structure facilitates streamlined processes, short distances and cable conduits, compliance with environmental requirements and high cost effectiveness. The building is the first laboratory building in Switzerland to be certified with the Minergie-Eco standard, a leading Swiss ecological label.
Silvia Gmür Reto Gmür
Eicher + Pauli/
Walter Dietsche Architektur- und Bauleitungsbüro