SQUARE is the new learning centre of University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects, the building is based on the concept of unbroken connectivity and multifunctionality and models new ways of learning and interaction between students, lecturers and general public. Architecture studio Evolution Design was commissioned to develop a furniture concept that enables experimental learning and teaching and to fit out the building and several roof terraces.
SQUARE was designed to enable innovation and dialogue and be a place of surprising encounters and mutual inspiration. In order to achieve this, a dedicated team curates a programme of educational and cultural activities that change daily, ranging from events with the participation of external guests to workshops, masterclasses and courses, and students working in groups on their projects.
In order to accommodate such daily diversity in spatial use, the interior architects developed a toolbox concept – a set of elements like furniture, presentation equipment, a bespoke foldable stage, rugs and plants – all of which can be easily combined to create distinctive layouts and atmospheres within the open space. To increase the spatial versatility, most items – from chairs and stools to whiteboards, tables and plants – are fitted with castor wheels allowing the items to be moved around freely.
Foster team work
In addition to fitting out the open plan areas, the architects also designed a sophisticated cafeteria on the ground floor and three special meeting rooms on the top floor. The Amphitheatre, equipped with custom-made stepped seating, is a popular choice for presentations and open group discussions, while the Campfire facilitates quality conversations, creating a slower, more reflective exchange. The Tea House is designed as a conversation area consisting of a sunken sofa and a large table and is specifically created to foster a strong sense of group work. Conversations, learning and exchange happen here in an informal atmosphere. In accordance with the most sophisticated tea ceremony traditions, this is a shoe-free area.