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Extending urban space

March 1st, 2016 / By: / Feature

The foldable roof membrane of St. Gallen, Switzerland’s Metzgergasse can be deployed in minutes. It holds its shape in all kinds of weather and has become a dramatic focal point for the urban shopping space. Photos: Sefar® Architecture
The foldable roof membrane of St. Gallen, Switzerland’s Metzgergasse can be deployed in minutes. It holds its shape in all kinds of weather and has become a dramatic focal point for the urban shopping space. Photos: Sefar® Architecture

The Metzgergasse is a popular gathering place in the Buchs Town Center area of St. Gallen, Switzerland. With shops and restaurants, it’s a place for people to meet, take a stroll and relax.

To enhance the area and make it an outdoor destination no matter the weather, Kugel Architekten, a Stuttgart, Germany-based architectural firm, was tapped to design a covering to span the 36-foot wide by 164-foot long lane.

Architect Nikolai Kugel designed a rainproof, retractable fabric structure that is not only practical but has become a dramatic focal point for the walkway. The roof membrane runs lengthwise along four parallel rails that can be folded compactly under a parking bridge at the northern end of the street. It can be deployed in a matter of minutes to span an area of approximately 5,650 square feet.

Kugel chose Tenara® fabric 4T40HF made by Sefar® Architecture, Depew, N.Y., for the cover because of its translucency and protective qualities. The fabric forms an undulating roof that diffuses the light and expands in tension, cleanly billowing out above the light to fill in the canopy’s frame. LED lighting was incorporated into the structure to create a rich, warm glow at night.

Woven from ePTFE yarn and coated with PTFE, the fabric is sturdy enough to be retracted and deployed repeatedly without degradation or loss of strength. It also protects against rain while still allowing natural light to shine through. The structure holds up in heavy winds, a particular issue in the foothills of the Alps.

Tenara fabric is tear- and dirt-resistant and was subjected to wind-tunnel testing before installation.

Julie Swiler is a freelance writer and editor from St. Paul, Minn.

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