Campus - 06.08.2018 - 00:00 

Thinking, writing, buzzing – The Terraces at the University of St.Gallen

There are numerous terraces at the University of St.Gallen. Students and employees of the university alike can enjoy the fresh air and the magnificent views here. There is a uniting principle behind these outdoor areas. Dana Sindermann reports.

9 August 2018. Should you feel guilty about saying that you're working outside on the terrace? As I write this text, I'm doing just that. I am sitting with my laptop beneath a large, white parasol on the terrace of my institute, the IWE (Institute for Business Ethics). While musing, my gaze wanders over the green hill opposite. Or, further to the right to the summit of the Säntis, which today shimmers only slightly through the hazy sky. The adjoining institute building on the other side – unlike our new building, an old villa – also offers a spacious outdoor area. This airy storey of the venerable old house also brings us to the history of the terraces at this university: Terraces have a long tradition in St.Gallen. In downtown St.Gallen, for example. Looking up while strolling through its streets, you can see a lot of pretty roof-top terraces. Small balconies skirted by filigree wrought iron railings that cap the pointed roofs.

Terraces as a connection between inside and outside

"Houses with terraces would appear the obvious choice in the city, with its two hills," says Hans Jörg Baumann, Head of Real Estate at HSG. At the same time, the terraces of the university buildings symbolise the university's openness and its ties to its surroundings. "We want to create a link to the exterior," says Baumann, "and these spaces connect the inside and outside." The open platforms have always been part of the university located on the Rosenberg. "The main building's forecourt is basically a big terrace." And this idea is continued upwards. There is thus a large outdoor area adjacent to the old library of the Tête. "People want to be able to step out while working and feel and enjoy nature." The view of the Alpstein with the grand Säntis ensures mental relaxation during the breaks. The clear air in green surroundings is invigorating. This soothing and stimulating effect is also evident in the newer university buildings. The newest building in Müller-Friedberg-Strasse thus features a large terrace with a magnificent view of the rooftops of the old town. This light, airy spot serves as the meeting place for the entire building. Students, professors and admin employees come here for lunch or for relaxed meetings. "Terraces are places of creativity," says Baumann. "Places where one meets by chance and where equally surprising ideas are born."

Collaborative work in the planned Learning Centre

The concept of collaborative work in an airy environment will be one of the highlights in the planned Learning Centre. The modular building will be extensively landscaped, offering green terraces on all levels. "These tiered terraces reflect the tiered structures of the existing campus," says Marie de France, partner of the responsible architectural firm Sou Fujimoto Architects. These outdoor spaces also underscore the University's environmental affinity: "Inspiration and knowledge are created through dialogue and interaction in the university. But first and foremost, with the city."

Sustainable green roofs

Incidentally, green roofs are also part of the university's sustainability concept. The carpet of plants and grasses cools the rooms below in summer, filtering dust and pollutants from the air and providing a habitat for insects and other small animals. My institute's terrace is also a hive of activity at the moment. A swarm of bees is busy working on our raised bed, where the mint is currently in full bloom and the workers bees are buzzing around, harvesting the delicious nectar. I also take a sip of refreshing mint water and finish up this article, thanks to the good working environment, which combines both city and nature.

The author, Dana Sindermann, is a research assistant at the Institute for Business Ethics.

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