“The Hamel” forms the northern end of the Saurer WerkZwei site. This extensive former industrial site is located to the south of the historic old town of Arbon and only a few meters from the shores of Lake Constance. Both the railway station and the main street are in the immediate vicinity. The plant of the former Hamel spinning and twisting machine factory is an elongated, two-storey building with a basement that dates from the early 20th Century. At its eastern end, there is a four-storey office tract constructed in 1907.
At the western end, there is a gate-like passage for the Klarastrasse, which leads directly onto the site. Arbon’s new bus station is to the north of the building while the Hotel Werk2 and the Saurer Museum are being built at Hamelplatz to the south.
The factory building is an understated concrete skeleton structure with a rhythmically structured exposed brick façade. Designed by architect Wendelin Heene of St. Gallen, it is a listed building and a testimony to Arbon’s industrial history. With its purchase of the 208,000 m2 Saurer WerkZwei site, HRS Investment AG also acquired the Hamel building from the City of Arbon. As the general contractor, HRS Renovation AG carried out the conversion and completion work on behalf of the St. Galler Pensionskasse (Pension Fund).
The renovated building offers attractive, contemporary residential, sales retail and service areas. It functions as a mixed-use hub. There is a public pedestrian underpass between the bus station, Hamelplatz and Arbon railway station, which guarantees a significant flow of passers-by in and around the building.
The ground floor features a spacious mall with retail outlets and services. Of this area, 138 m2 are reserved for restaurants. From this mall passage, a large staircase leads down to the underpass and three further access cores to the office and service areas as well as the apartments on the upper floors. Glass doors separate the restaurant / café and retail areas from the access area. The former production areas now provide a bright and generously-dimensioned shopping atmosphere. Now clearly visible, the concrete skeleton of the Hamel building was considered the ultimate in design when this complex was developed.
Commissioned with the renovation, the architectural office of Pfister Schiess Tropeano & Partner Architekten AG from Zurich used the large spans of the hall design to create spacious areas. These are now flooded with daylight from skylights and the large side windows.
On the first floor, a spatial atmosphere has been created that corresponds to contemporary standards. The area of 2,593 m2 can be flexibly used for office and service areas. The large arched windows not only provide a good view of the surrounding area and Lake Constance, but also add to the atmosphere of the rooms. The reduction in materials and use of white surfaces corresponds to the external appearance of the structure and gives users ample design freedom with room heights of up to 4.70 m.
The four-storey building at the front contains 16 individual apartments on its three upper floors. The unique features of the historic building, its non-perpendicular walls, large arched windows and exposed brick surfaces create a special ambience.
It encourages unconventional ideas for furnishings and
usage. The flat roof of the Hamel building is accessible to all tenants for use as a terrace. An attractive panorama awaits − with Mount Säntis, the Vorarlberg Alps and a distant view of Friedrichshafen, Lindau and Bregenz.
In the course of the total renovation, the more recent additions were removed to reveal the building in its historical form. The architects were inspired by the realization that the planning process for a listed building differs fundamentally from that for an ordinary conversion, and even more from that for a new building. The objective was to identify and protect what remained as well as the potential in what was frequently a barely recognizable original building. Similar to a surgeon’s strokes with a scalpel, the line of destruction had to be drawn precisely in favour of what was still viable. Research, tracking, analysis and a lot of reading were indispensable tools for the planning work. During the construction stage, it was essential to react to new discoveries. One particular challenge was to identify and secure the strength of the load-bearing structure. The consequences of the existing underpass location for the Swiss Federal Railways also required a great deal of attention. At the same time, the building as an entity had to be maintained despite the required flexibility of use.