Bundesverwaltungsgericht, St. Gallen



Must a modern building, which houses the Federal Administrative Court necessarily show an architecture as a symbol of state power? Are in an enlightened society "Justice Palaces" still appropriate, even if they come along in modern-minimalist fairing?

OAP has developed as a contribution to a public competition for the construction of the Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen a building typology, which resembles an open organism with its operational and functional forms. The organizational form of administrative pools can be implemented in different ways in this flexible space. Just as from the base of a democratic society the individual grows, we chose a form in which to develop individual structures out of a connecting pedestal.

This also has quite urbanistic reasons. The dense but small-scale 19th century development on the western side of the hill and the more suburban character of the scattered buildings along the "Rosenberg", benefit from the connecting force of a larger building, without which the fragmented nature of the surrounding villas would be thwarted. Their volumes are incorporated in a larger courthouse, and consistently continued to individual buildings in the residential development. In this urban setting the result is one of generous functionality.

The main entrance of the courthouse leads into an open entrance hall, which shows an internal built landscape following the outer topography. The sequence of spaces reflect the width and transparency of the modern state, e.g. looking through the library which opens the view to the terrain behind.

The entrance through the buildings pedestal follows the topography and results in a built "landscape" with staggered, ascending spatial sequences.

Through the terraced distribution of the building diverse views and courtyard situations are created.

At one level, the residential buildings can be flexibly changed into either three- and four-room apartments or five and two-room apartments.

Excerpt from the jury report:
"The authors interpret the competition area as an urban unit and accordingly propose a solution for the court and the residential front, which has volumetric similarities and can be read from a distance as one unit. The selected module - a square cube of three to four storeys - thus covering the whole competition area, is tied together by a base building, the courthouse. The development has a good graininess, and therefore can be easily integrated into the quarter; ... "