Tag Archives: austria


Höhenrausch.3 in Linz, Austria, by Various Architects and Artists, 2013

Photographs by Otto Saxinger and Andreas Kepplinger; courtesy of Im OÖ Kulturquartier

The first time I heard about some of the rooftop structures atop the Im OÖ Kulturquartier (Im OÖ) in Linz, Austria, was in reading a monograph on Japanese architects Atelier Bow-Wow. The Linz Super Branch allowed visitors to traverse the rooftops of the buildings and gain a unique perspective on the city. Turns out that the rooftop has been updated annually since Atelier Bow-Wow's 2009 installation, per its inclusion in the catalog S AM 11 / Lookout, which accompanies an exhibition at Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel, Switzerland. The catalog attributes the concept to Raoul Bunschoten, while Im OÖ attributes the urban/artistic consultancy to him and his firm CHORA. Whatever the case, the most recent additions go vertical, adding a contemporary twist to the historical skyline.

Most visible from the surrounding streets, especially at night when it's awash in color, is Wen-Chih Wang's "Bamboo Cupola." Im OÖ describes it as such: "Transformations of space are at the heart of the installations by the Taiwanese artist Wen-Chih Wang. He expands given architectural structures with fantastic constructions of bamboo and rattan. Thus a 15-meter-high tower made of woven bamboo grows out of the Höhenrausch.3 rooftop walkways, so that a light-flooded space emerges that invites lingering. The bamboo tower is illuminated from the inside at night, thus becoming an unusual object in urban space in the dark, too."

A bit less artistic, but a construction that can be climbed to gain even higher views of Linz, is the "Upper Austria Tower." Im OÖ describes this addition as such: "The Upper Austrian Tower rises 31 meters into the sky on the highest point of the parking garage building. The local tower of the Höhenrausch.3 tower quartet is a copy of the lookout tower Alpenblick along the Czech border in Ulrichsberg. The functional architecture of the "rural" lookout tower made of fir wood becomes a new, temporary landmark of the city of Linz. In contrast to these urban surroundings, it displays the material of wood.Through the climb up over seven levels, the urban space opens up like a theatrical staging."

One last rooftop element worth mentioning is a slender white piece that looks like an antenna but is Lang/Baumann's "Diving Platform." Again, Im OÖ's statement: "An about 13-meter-high Diving Platform rises up from the central platform of the Höhenrausch.3 rooftop landscape, but no one can dive from here. Intermediated between a functional object and a sculpture, this work involves a kind of mental acrobatics, the idea of what it could be like to climb up and enjoy the view. Lang/Baumann refer often in their works to functionality, design or architecture and enrich existing situations or spaces by the dimension of poetry and imagination."

High School Extension with “Crinkled Wall”

High School Extension with "Crinkled Wall" in Kufstein, Austria, by Johannes Wiesflecker and Karl-Heinz Klopf, 2012

Photograph by David Schreyer

Paper is a suitable metaphor for knowledge, considering how ideas have been expressed and shared via books and other paper media for centuries. Even as digital technologies are supplanting books, newspaper, and magazines as the preferred means of sharing information, paper still plays a large role in learning. We write on paper, we draw on paper, we still read things on paper, and we throw paper away. In this sense, especially the latter case, it is appropriate that artist Karl-Heinz Klopf has contributed a "Crinkled Wall" (commissioned by BIG Art) to the High School Extension in Kufstein designed by Johannes Wiesflecker.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

The location of the Crinkled Wall is strategic. It sits perpendicular and adjacent to the street, giving the school a distinctive public face; it faces an open space to ensure it is visible from a distance; and it faces south, shielding some of the classrooms from direct sunlight (they gain sunlight from the sides, one of which is angled in the tapered plan to capture some direct light from the south).

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

While the crinkled wall resembles a crumpled piece of paper, it has to be built from something more substantial. Concrete is the resulting material, and views from the side (the two photos above) make it appear like the surface is thick, as it wraps the corner. But as the photo below attests, the wall is relatively thin, hung a few feet in front of the classroom windows.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Photograph by David Schreyer

The thinness of the concrete panels accentuates the allusion to paper, a material whose form is mirrored from one side to the other when crumpled, though from the inside the materiality of the Crinkled Wall—its texture, its formwork holes—comes to the fore. The same happens on the exterior when it rains, turning something abstract into something dripping with its reality. This is important, because Klopf opted to sculpt something tactile rather than something made of bits and bytes. An LED facade can also express knowledge, learning, and information. By selecting paper, Klopf makes us aware of the analog-digital shift underway (computers may have a "recycling bin" with "wastepaper" in them, but they aren't the same as the real thing), helping us to realize it is not absolute or simple.

Photograph by David Schreyer

Site Plan

Floor Plan

Building Section

Tunnel Monitoring Complex

Tunnel Monitoring Complex in Hausmannstaetten, Austria, by Dietger Wissounig Architekten, 2012

The following text and images are courtesy of Dietger Wissounig Architekten.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

The large complex of buildings nestled on level ground along the new Hausmannstaetten bypass road covers three functions: tunnel control center, central repair shop and road maintenance depot. In order to keep the intrusion to a minimum, the building was interpreted as part of the landscape. It follows the course of the road and the green roofs, which regulate the climate and blend in with the fields farmed in strips. A planted embankment forms the boundary to the bypass. Additionally, the way the elongated position of buildings is chosen, they contribute to noise protection in favor of the neighboring small houses. On the one hand, the complex consequently uses the existing topographical conditions to minimize noise, energy and routes. On the other hand, its clear, simple design vocabulary stabilizes the atmosphere of the heterogeneous environment.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

The building complex at the west portal of the Himmelreich tunnel at Hausmannstätten enters into a consistent dialogue with the surrounding landscape. By dint of its size and development along the tunnel entrance, the structure impacts on the landscape, of which it forms an integral part.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

The green roofs follow the course of the street. The earth banks already on the building site and neighboring plot, heaped up for tunnel construction, are only partially rearranged and form the new topography in combination with the roofs. The top edges of the roofs and earth banks are at the same height. Seen from the country road, the impression is one of having parts of the landscape in front of you. The eye ranges over the green roof surfaces to the Graz Basin with its plot pattern of short strip fields.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

The architecture is characterized by a calm, pragmatic style. The aim was to stabilize the surrounding area, that is dominated by suburban detached houses and commercial developments. The reserved architectural language serves as a background for the heterogeneous neighborhood. In addition to the areas of extensive roof and embankment greenery, the materials used are above all long-lived.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

To cater to the heavy burden of the weather and works transport (frost and thaw salt), extremely robust natural materials are used such as reinforced concrete (also for crash guards), wood in the interior protected from the weather, steel and industrial glass. These materials define the appearance of the façades. In some areas high-quality, resistant materials are used; for example stainless steel in the washing bay – simply for reasons of severe exposure to corrosion due to steam.

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

Photograph by Jasmin Schuller

Plan by Dietger Wissounig Architekten

Plan by Dietger Wissounig Architekten

Plan by Dietger Wissounig Architekten

Childcare Center Maria Enzersdorf

Childcare Center in Maria Enzersdorf, Austria by MAGK and illiz architektur, 2011.

A small school in the town of Maria Enzersdorf, south of Vienna, required expansion in line with the community's growing population. A 2008 competition called for an addition with eight primary-school classrooms, after-school care facilities, and a kindergarten with kitchen. The association of MAGK and illiz architektur won the competition with a plan that uses L-shaped "which are interlaced in such a manner that different places and free spaces to play in and for learning are formed in the interstices." Each "L" relates to one part of the program, although the whole building is interconnected through corridors and to a certain degree the outdoor spaces.

This means of planning creates a variety of outdoor spaces: an enclosed courtyard, a courtyard open on one side, a space overlooking but setback from the street, and an space between the addition and the existing school. The last two are highlighted by orange-red paving that describes diagonal paths across the space; the rocky islands in between are used for play and for trees. The enclosed courtyard is generous and is used for the kindergarten; it is located at the farthest remove from the existing school. Finally the narrow, semi-enclosed courtyard is accessible from both the new primary school classrooms and the after-school rooms.

The differing design of doors, cloakrooms and wall panels in an individual range of color for each area of activity facilitates finding the way and increases their identification, particularly for the children. -MAGK and illiz architektur

The quote above makes it clear that color is used strategically in the school's design, but it is not limited to the interior. The western facade of the kindergarten (top photo) incorporates colored glass panels into a white, wire-mesh grid, creating a Mondrian-esque screen that filters the afternoon sunlight and makes for some interesting outdoor space on the front of the building. Color is used selectively in other parts of the facades, such as the kindergarten courtyard (left), where operable panels in the expansive glass walls are made from metal painted bright colors. These patches of color alternate with window cubbies that punctuate the different corridors.

Of course, using color as a means of wayfinding and identification points to a neutral background. Such is the case in the Childcare Center Maria Enzersdorf, as the exterior elevations and most of the interior surfaces are otherwise white. Facades sans color use window size and placement to add interest, such as pixelating small windows between window boxes that double as seats. There is an evident flavor in each L-shaped section, owing to the articulation of windows, the placement of color, and the various interior finishes. Nevertheless the general strategy ties the whole together into a bright and refreshing environment for some lucky children.


Kindergarten (KIGA) in Neufeld an der Leitha, Austria by SOLID architecture, 2010.

The influence of the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois, designed by Perkins + Will (then Perkins, Wheeler, and Will) with Eliel and Eero Saarinen in 1940, is undeniable. Its floor plan ingeniously utilized L-shaped classrooms to create small outdoor spaces adjacent to each classroom. (The classroom itself is rectangular, appended by a workroom to form the L.) Additionally the corridors are open and light, punctuated by circular skylights, but it is the way the classrooms are linked to outdoor spaces scaled to the students, especially kindergarteners, that has been passed down across time and space.

Crow Island School may not be a direct precedent for SOLID architecture's design of a kindergarten (KIGA) in the small Austrian town of Neufeld an der Leitha, but the articulation of the plan to help define outdoor zones, as well as the use of skylights to bring natural light into the network of corridors and other spaces, is clear. A primarily solid entry elevation (photos right and left) faces north, but the southern side of the rectangular building (top photo), away from traffic, is glassy and open, shaded by a large louvered overhang over the shared outdoor spaces.

Glass walls, roof lights and the way the garden interlocks with the kindergarten create spaces flooded with daylight, lively lighting conditions and different moods of color. -SOLID architecture

The photo at left shows one of the access points to these southern spaces. The double-doors are a subtle shift from the Crow Island plan, which provides direct access from classroom to outside; KIGA, on the other hand, uses the circulation to separate the classrooms so they are distinct and as a means of moving the children along particular paths, important for five-year-olds. These corridors also mean that the whole classroom is available as a surface for play; an area in front of a doorway at the exterior wall is therefore not required to be kept free for access. Additionally, light wood finishes for the casework in these and other rooms, as well as white walls and ceilings and off-white flooring, create a very bright interior that is a background for the kids' creations and they toys they play with.

Ultimately what makes KIGA distinctive is the louvered roof that caps the play area on the southern side of the building (photo at right). This generous overhang is down-turned at the end with the same wood louvers, which helps to further shade the glass-walled classrooms. These louvers also help tie together the various small outdoor spaces that are created by jogging the classrooms in plan. This knitting of the spaces also happens via the wood planks below, but the strong overhead expression fittingly provides a sense of enclosure for the kids. Kudos to SOLID architecture for a design that responds to their small "clients" in all aspects of the building.

“Free Play” Kindergarten

"Free Play" Kindergarten in Guntramsdorf, Austria by g.o.y.a., 2010.

The following text and images (photos are by Kurt Hörbst) are courtesy g.o.y.a. (group of young architects).

The kindergarten is located in a grove of striking chestnut trees. Its rustic design celebrates a sense of open space and connection with its lovely environment. To meet the various needs of the children, the building is organized as a series of structures, each connected visually with the trees. Classrooms are organized around a hallway which gives onto a foyer affording floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the encircling chestnuts.

Both classrooms and activity area branch out from the foyer which, clad in larchwood, maintains continuity with the exterior of the building.  The multi-purpose foyer is accessible to the classrooms and the gymnasium. This enables classes to be conducted discretely so that different kinds of activity can take place simultaneously. For special occasions, however, the flexible dividing wall between the gymnasium and the foyer can be opened to provide a large events room.

The kindergarten’s interior harmonizes with the environment by being clad in larchwood. Load bearing walls of spruce cross-laminated timber are faced with triple layered spruce panels finished with a bright white varnish. Each classroom has a large panoramic window looking onto the chestnut trees. Windows are set at child’s-eye level with ample lower sills doubling as benches. Unlike these airy classrooms, the gallery, lit by a skylight through which the tops of trees can be glimpsed, offers a more intimate experience.

If the upright trunks of the old trees suggest strength and perseverance, these characteristics are expressed in the language of the building with its preponderance of wood.  Footbridges and terraces link the classrooms, imparting a sense of well-being. Three themed play areas cluster about a garden: Balance and Equilibrium, Calm and Nature, and Sand and Water. Conceived as a low-energy building, the school is heated in winter, cooled in summer, by a ground water heat pump feeding under floor piping. CO2 concentration controlled ventilation ensures optimum air quality.

Luxbau Office Conversion

Luxbau Office Conversion in Hainfeld, Austria by synn architekten, 2011.

Previously the Luxbau construction company's offices were housed in two buildings in the center of Hainfeld, a "Wilhelminian Style Villa" and a 1930s building anchoring the corner. Faced with a situation where the employees were separated from one another, the client and synn architekten opted to build a bridge between the two structures instead of replacing the existing with a new building.  The solution -- based on social and sustainability factors over economic reasons, according to the architects -- is a striking glass and concrete addition that expresses its role as connector.

The new entrance in the glass link is positioned closer to the 1930s building than the villa. From here, one can ascend or descend via steps to the former, while access to the latter is via a ramp. The undersides of both the stair and ramp are open, so, in concert with the clear glass facing the street, the different angles of vertical ascent is described to the passersby. The full-height clear glass is interspersed with panels of translucent glazing that coincides with openings in the concrete wall that makes up the link's other long wall.

The extended building signs the company´s philosophy for solidarity with construction and the attention to details, material and conceptual outstanding solutions.
-synn architekten

This concrete wall faces a courtyard between the two existing buildings. (Note that in the image at left, the dormers above the link are actually across the street, not the villa, a bit of an optical illusion.) This tranquil outdoor space is marked by wooden paths and a pond with lilies and tall grasses. Moving from the entrance to the villa, this landscape is glimpsed through the small windows, a more effective enticement than another wall of glass would have produced.

Both of the existing buildings were adapted for the construction company's offices and improved to make them more energy efficient. The architects intended the new link and the building conversions to act as an advertisement for Luxbau, much like architects' studios are carefully considered to impress clients. Yet it's the relatively little used (in terms of time spent) link that steals the show. It illustrates how the smallest intervention (the even smaller tree planter and seating in the roadway is a nice touch) can't make the biggest impact.

Erich Sattler Winery

Erich Sattler Winery in Tadten, Austria by Architects.Collective, 2010.

In the realm of architecture with a capital A wineries are a fairly recent building type. Most famous is still Herzog & de Meuron's Dominus Winery from 1997, but the ensuing years have seen a lot of "adventurous wine architecture" by Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, Rafael Moneo, Glenn Murcutt, Renzo Piano, and Richard Rogers (according to the book of that name). Some of these buildings include hotels and visitors centers, testifying to the popularity of wine in tourism, now appended by some archi-tourism. These share the trait of being buildings in the landscape, some appearing to rise from the surroundings but others calling for attention with forms unimpeded by the constraints of more stringent building types. This small winery in the southeastern corner of Austria is notable for how it differs from these examples.

Erich Sattler calls his wines "an authentic expression of the climate and soil from the vineyards around Tadten in Burgenland," where the Danube used to flow and is now a large gravel bar at the northwestern edge of the Little Hungarian Plain. The low-yield grapes are harvested by hand and transported to the winery that is located in center of the small village. Actually the winery is located in the middle of a large block, removed from the streets on the north and south by a couple buildings on either side; access is via a pedestrian walkway from the main street on the south. This fact alone -- its remove from the winery landscape into a relatively urban condition -- differentiates it the most from other contemporary wineries, and it also sets up much of the design by Architects.Collective.

A series of spatial diagonals [merge] into a flowing overall form, creating a number of diverse spaces, views and topographies which are relating to the sun, the patio, and the surrounding environment. -Architects.Collective

Being hemmed in by residential buildings on the south and an existing manufacturing and storage facility for the winery on the north, and because the east and west party walls needed to be solid for fire ratings, the new insertion needed to look inward and rise vertically. The ground floor is given over to a barrel room and tank room. Upstairs is a tasting room with kitchen, offices, and guest rooms. The kitchen and bathroom occupy the center of the parallelogram-shaped plan, a service core within a pinwheeling pentagon. Facing east and west are two tapering terraces, extensions of the spaces inside.

Above these spaces is a roof terrace connected to a sloped portion with 360-degree views of the town and the surrounding landscape. From this vantage point, one can take in the wine and the distant grapes that produced it. In this sense the roofscape is like a transplanted landscape that reconnects the winery with its vineyards. It makes up for the disassociation by elevating the visitor (and the importance of the winery) within the small yet complex building, poised above the surrounding rooftops; a strong and fitting metaphor for the role of wine in the village and the region.

House in Zellerndorf

House in Zellerndorf, Austria by franz, 2009.

Last week I featured a project on my blog, an addition that minimized its impact on the existing building by adding three small structures behind it instead of one. An E-shaped plan can also be found in this residence by Austrian architects franz. A coincidence? An appealing approach to defining different functions? A theme in contemporary architecture? Whatever the case may be, each response relates to specific circumstances, making them unique while sharing certain traits.

The client and the architect for this house (two brothers) grew up in a Streckhof, an elongated farmhouse in the area. These structures, though typically with pitched roofs, are recalled in the three pavilions that comprise this contemporary, flat-top house. From the road the three pieces are, logically: parking, living, sleeping. Therefore a movement from semi-public to intimate happens along the glass spine that stretches approximately 35 meters (115 feet).

We grew up in the sheltered space of the Streckhof. It was important to create intimate outdoor areas. Every room was to have light from the south and a relationship to the garden. -Robert Diem, franz

When seen from the road the house's black polycarbonate facade is easily the most striking aspect of the design, what sets it apart from the traditional neighbors. A canopy and shallow stoop hint at the glass link that extends from the front door to the rear pavilion. Each 6.6 x 16.6m (21-1/2 x 54-1/2-foot) box is offset from each other, relating to the functions contained within each black container. For example, the two-car garage takes up roughly 2/3 of the space of the first box to the right of the entry, yet the open living area takes up about 3/4 of the next box to the left of the corridor.

Between the living and sleeping pavilions are a terrace and pool, what can be seen as the main outdoor space, a "room" equivalent in size to one of the containers. When seen as a whole the house is comprised of five elements: this pool area, the three pavilions, and the glass walkway. This last piece animates movement between the pavilions, adding splashes of light to the promenade and alternating the experience of open/closed, inside/outside. It's a simple parti, but one that responds to the client's needs and background.

City Planning According to Artistic Principles

City Planning According to Artistic Principles by Camillo Sitte
Random House, 1964
Paperback, 205 pages

Originally published in 1889, Camillo Sitte intended his book as a guide for locating monuments in public spaces, particularly Vienna, but what resulted is a criticism of modern city planning that valued logic and mathematical solutions over artistic considerations. He looks to Italy and its Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque spaces as ideals (especially the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and Piazza San Marco in Venice), though he realizes that simply copying historical city spaces into modern plans would not work. Although he has an apparent affection of these and other spaces, they were generated under much different conditions than his own, so he tries to learn from their principles and find appropriate solutions to specific area of concern in Vienna.

He concludes the book with a plan for reshaping a portion of the Austrian city; along the way he generates a number of rules pertinent to public spaces, such as not locating churches, public buildings, or monuments in the middle of squares, and that nearby buildings shouldn't compete with the important building of the square. Piazza San Marco (on the cover, at left) is a telling example: the Church of San Marco is definitely the important building of the piazza, engaged with its surrounding rather than isolated in the middle of the space, with the remaining building subservient to the church via repetitious bays and other means. While these rules may no longer apply over 100 years after the book's publication, they are still a fitting way of reframing historical spaces as a way to improve contemporary spaces in a fitting manner.