Campus - 13.02.2022 - 00:00 

Venturing new beginnings in SQUARE

SQUARE has been brought to life: students, staff and alumni explored the new HSG building for the first time on Saturday – and, in workshops, developed ideas about how this unusual building could enable innovative teaching and learning.

13 February 2022. "This is where creative destruction is possible, this is where we can leave our comfort zones," said Claire Born, Head of Community & Participation of SQUARE, to the audience on the occasion of its inauguration. Under the motto New Beginnings, the doors of SQUARE opened on Saturday for the first time to students, staff, as well as alumni and alumnæ of the HSG. About 600 people set off to explore the glass building designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and discussed what could be possible in this place. "I just find it exciting to be present at the inauguration of such an unusual building," said business administration student Nicolas Quell. "I hope that genuine innovation will be lived here," adds Amira Babic, who is studying business education. In a course of her studies, she once developed various utilisation concepts for SQUARE. "Now I let myself be surprised by what of that will be implemented. The unusual floor plan will certainly be helpful when it comes to breaking out of conventional forms of learning and teaching."

From culture to business

The architecture of SQUARE is a great talking point. The three floors, which are arranged around an interior courtyard, strike those who enter SQUARE as one big room. The glass façade opens up the vista of the city of St.Gallen and its environs all the way round. In the bright interior, a wide variety of working islands, seating groups, tables and sofas are arranged in a casual manner. And the 15 partially glazed SQUARE rooms can be made larger or smaller – depending on events, group sizes and requirements.

The flexible rooms and meeting zones support the HSG’s vision for SQUARE: the University wants to put the future of university learning and teaching to the test in this building. In addition, the intention is to cultivate an exchange between academia, society, business, politics and culture. "The focus is on encounters and networking here, you can clearly feel that," commented Paddy Rubin, CEO of St.Gallen’s video production firm Vitronic, which accompanied and documented construction work on SQUARE from the start. "It’s that much better to see the finished building now as a guest. I think that the special rooms allow for a wide variety of exchange forms – from culture to business," said Rubin. Indeed, various public lectures, panel discussions and meetings of the student parliament are already on the SQUARE programme. The contents of this programme will always roughly follow a topic. For this spring semester, it is New Beginnings. The HSG will also be using the new rooms for more than 80 courses.

An opportunity for an opening

Exchange already determined the spirit of SQUARE on the very first day. In two workshop rounds, the guests discussed how the new start in the new building could succeed. In the randomly constituted groups, students were engaged in a discussion with HSG alumni, and retired faculty members with SME entrepreneurs. One finding was this: with SQUARE, the HSG would have an opportunity to open itself up towards the Rotmonten quarter and the city of St.Gallen, but also towards other educational institutions and external experts.

Photo: Hannes Thalmann; text: Urs-Peter Zwingli

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