The area to be newly designed consisted mainly of the space between two locations of the local library: the main building in the south and the ancient arsenal, in which additional rooms had been installed into in 2011. The clients, the city and the canton of Zug asked for a public city park that was to be linked to the historic city’s pedestrian walks. The main goal of the park was to connect both sites of the library.
One of the main challenges was the fact that an underground car park from the 1970s partly juts out of the tilted terrain and its driveway divide the area into two sections.
The commonly accomplished competition entry by Planetage Landscape Architects and Ramser Schmid Architects was the winner of the 2010 competition. The jury report mentions the “surprising and yet persuading configuration of the terrain edge”. Instead of hiding away the underground car park’s volume by banks of earth, the planners accepted the presence of the building and decided to additionally expose it, extend it and to strengthen it by a wooden wall cladding. The car park now appears as a retaining wall, which separates the upper level with the old arsenal and its terrace from the lower part.
The lower level serves as public traffic area for the underground car park on the one hand. An array of shrub beds bordered by low hedges has been provided, which accompanies the footpaths towards the site and which can be seen as a spatial analogy to the existing Old Town’s gardens in Zug.
The staircases to the upper level pass by the retaining wall that is covered with vertical wooden slats. The cladding serves several purposes: besides being a fall protection, it highlights the built structures and facilitates orientation onsite. Protruding elements of the old underground car park, like for example an emergency exit, are masked. Visible transitions between new and 40-year old concrete surfaces are obscured with the new supplements, without hiding away the massive presence of the building. The upper level located in front of the newly installed research library in the old arsenal is designed as a wide and open park. Generous and versatile lawns, a water basin, flexible seating configurations provide for a relaxed atmosphere.
The pavilion with its widely projecting roof creates a new sense of identity for the old Zeughaus (arsenal) site. The placement of the pavilion on the very top follows the inner logic of the complex: the mushroom-like pavilion is built on the lift shaft and the ventilation station of the 10-storey underground car park below. The technical section that protrudes the car park’s roof is amplified and used as a pedestal for the cantilevered roof construction. In analogy to the retaining wall’s veil of wood, a transparent shell of horizontal wooden slats around the pedestal was designed in order to embellish the poor quality of the existing buildings rather than to hide them. The cladding depicts the vertical subconstruction as well as the roof’s radially arranged laminated beams and reveals, solely by its geometry, the constructive design of the supporting structure.
Info and images © Ramser Schmid Architekten
Photography is by Ralph Feiner