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“A first for me too”


Even the heavy snowfalls of the last few weeks could not stop the fast progressing construction of the HSG Learning Center. One of the people who is crucially involved in this is foreman Raphael Sägesser, who is responsible for the on-site work on the concrete shell. He is looking forward to the coming challenges.

“Mainly clearing away snow.” With a grin on his face which even shows from behind the mask, this is how Raphael Sägesser answers the question as to what his team is currently doing on the Learning Center construction site. In only a few days, nearly two and a half feet of snow had fallen on the shell roof. “Of course it’s a challenge during this time of year, but it doesn’t make much of a difference to us. We carry on working at full speed.”

The mastery of challenges does not solely characterise the construction of the Learning Center, for in future, students are also intended to be confronted with external challenges in the completed Learning Center in order to be prepared for the unforeseeable conditions in the world of work and the economy. To ensure that this will soon be the case, Sägesser ordered three additional workmen to the construction site, who are freeing the Learning Center of its white cover.

Sägesser is the site foreman of the construction company, Feldmann Bau, which was commissioned to execute the concrete work of the Learning Center by the general contractor, HRS Real Estate AG. This is quite an extraordinary task, for the entire building consists of just under 6,000m3 concrete on an overall surface of around 7,0002. Yet the volume of concrete is not the only distinguishing feature of the Learning Center: it also possesses unique characteristics.

Sustainable and regional

After all, almost half of the concrete is a special recycled concrete produced by St.Gallen’s Holcim concrete works, which is only three kilometres away. This recycled concrete closes the building material cycle, saves natural resources as well as CO2. “To save additional concrete, hollow bodies were cast into the ceilings,” adds Sägesser. This reduces the mass of concrete by approx. 17 per cent, on the one hand, and improves the seismic safety of the building, on the other hand.

The mass reduction is of particular advantage in the construction of the attic, on which Sägesser’s team is currently working. Thanks to the hollow bodies, it is significantly lighter without losing any of its stability. As soon as the snow has been cleared and the roof has been completely stripped, the formwork props and panels can be removed and the atrium can be uncovered for the first time. The atrium will be the open hub of the Learning Center.

Unique spiral staircases
In the coming week, the two spiral staircases of the atrium, which connect the ground floor with the upper floors, will be planked to produce exposed concrete. “I’ve never done anything like that myself. This will be a first for me, too,” says Sägesser. He is evidently looking forward to this new experience. “It’ll be a challenge of course, but I’m confident.” After completion, the Learning Center will remain a place where something new can be tried out and learnt all the time.

It will take another two months for the work of the construction company and thus Sägesser’s work to be completely finished. “This construction site will definitely stay in my memory,” he admits already with some nostalgia. While Sägesser will move on to his next construction site, further work on the Learning Center will be continued without any loss of time, for HSG students should already be able to enter their new Learning Center on this unique concrete in a year’s time.