Among saints and crucifixes
“I work in a monastery.” This sentence might sound a bit unusual, but for the employees of Andermatt Swiss Alps AG it is completely ordinary. St. Karl Convent in Altdorf is the company’s headquarters. To new employees, all the corridors look alike, and finding their way back to their own office is not so easy. Roman Barmettler from the Marketing Department recalls his first days here with a smile: “When I started I would have liked to have a monastery app for navigation. That would have saved me some detours.”
Some walls separating the former nuns’ bedrooms (cells) have been removed to create larger spaces for some of the offices. This produced some very unconventional floor plans, as in the Marketing office, where Eliane Keller works: “The atmosphere in the monastery is inspirational for our work and has led us to quite a few creative ideas.” Pausing, she adds, “Except in the summer months, because then it’s so hot in our office that only the fountain in the monastery garden provides refreshment.”
Part of the Finance Department is located in the former bakery for altar bread. That’s why the walls there are not wooden. Accounting Executive Barbara Hiltbrunner appreciates her special workplace: “After working for several years in an open-plan office full of noise and commotion, I find working here in the monastery a relief. The comfortable atmosphere in the small host bakery offers a pleasant environment in which I can concentrate on my work in peace – which no longer has much to do with baking.” Other rooms were also readily transformed. The infirmary has a window that opens to the church so that the sick nuns could take part in church services from their bed. Today this room is the office of CEO Franz-Xaver Simmen. He won’t tell whether he uses the window sometimes to direct a quick prayer towards the church.
The nuns’ cells on the upper floor of the convent have remained unchanged. Each room has a bed, a washbasin and a kneeler. Only the usage has changed. When meetings last long hours or a presentation must be urgently finished, staff of Andermatt Swiss Alps AG can sleep overnight in these rooms. “I was very happy about these rooms when I was pregnant,” adds Annekathrin Meier. “I could put up my legs for some relaxation every now and then.”
The convent has remained largely in its original state. No office has the employee’s name on the door. Rather, panels with different sayings hang there. A centrepiece of the monastery is the memorial wall with the names of all the nuns who have lived and prayed in this monastery. The history dates back to the 17th century, when the Capuchin nuns moved from Attinghausen to Altdorf. For over 300 years, twelve generations of Altdorf girls learned reading, writing and maths here.
The building, today a registered historic landmark, is owned by the St. Karl Convent Ecclesiastical Foundation of Altdorf.
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