The HSG campus on St.Gallen’s Rosenberg is certified for its near-natural design. More than 60 different plant species grow and various wild and small animals live in the University grounds.
When all the students, researchers and members of staff leave the HSG campus on St.Gallen’s Rosenberg late in the evening, the grounds belong to nocturnal animals: the large, park-like area of 47,500 square metres is home to foxes, martens and badgers. They find their habitat around the University building, where 28 tree and 38 shrub species grow. The surrounding meadows, which are mown only once a year after they have seeded, provide a habitat for insects, birds and other small animals. Fertilisers and pesticides are not used; instead, a great deal of manual work is involved. Two employees of the HSG’s Construction and Technology Department exclusively work on the maintenance of the surroundings.
In many places, this green area looks overgrown; however, this does not involve less work. Indeed, there is an intention behind this wild vegetation: on the Rosenberg campus, nature is deliberately left space to develop. Since 2007, the HSG has been certified for the near-natural design of its environment by the Nature & Economy Foundation, which promotes nature in residential areas and honours exemplary areas and environment planning. “A near-natural design does not only foster biodiversity but also ensures a high degree of exterior space and residential quality,” the Foundation writes on its website.
Façade and roof greening implemented
With progressive climate change, a green environment in cities is becoming increasingly important. At the HSG, too, several buildings have been greened: thus when the Library was renovated in 2021, a near-natural roof garden with a small biotope was created. On the SQUARE, a total of approx. 1,350 square metres have been extensively greened. And also in 2021, the façades on the classroom cabins behind the sports grounds were greened: on a wire mesh in front of the cabins, indigenous climbers grow upwards. This increases the shade, which is also intended to improve the indoor climate of the cabins.
A biologically diverse campus design also means giving preference to indigenous plants whenever possible. However, since the University area used to be owned by St.Gallen’s Kirchhofer textile dynasty, whose members brought plants home from their travels, a few exotic plants can be found here, too: the best-known examples of this at the HSG are three imposing giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum). These trees are hardy; they also resist the St.Gallen winter and thus have their firm position among the HSG’s trees. Wherever possible, however, non-indigenous species – such as decorative shrubs in front of buildings – are removed and replaced by indigenous plants. The HSG staff of Construction and Technology conduct regular inspections with external experts of biologically diverse environment design. On these occasions, they discuss options of how the campus can be edged even closer to nature and developed along these lines.
Author: Tabea Bereuther
Date: 25. October 2022