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  • Austrian Builder-Owner Award 2012

    Ringturm, Vienna, 6 March – 5 April 2013

    Town Hall and Town Square, Kufstein © Lukas Schaller

    The Austrian Builder-Owner Award is one of Austria’s most prestigious architectural prizes. Presented by the Central Association of Austrian Architects since 1967, this annual award pays tribute to buildings and landscape architecture projects that stand out for their functionality, design and significance for the community, as well as for the building owner’s contribution of the success of the project. For the second time, the “Architektur im Ringturm” series of Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein – Vienna Insurance Group’s main shareholder – will be devoting an exhibition to the winners of the Builder-Owner Award as well as the nominees, offering a snapshot of Austria’s contemporary architectural landscape.

    A total of 109 submissions for the 2012 Austrian Builder-Owner Award from construction and landscape architecture projects, completed nationwide in the past three years, were received. Nomination panels visited all of the submitted projects before selecting up to five from each federal province, in which clients demonstrated an outstanding focus on architectural quality. The jury – including well-known experts Patrick Gmür (Zurich), Klaus Kada (Graz), Franziska Leeb (Vienna) as well as Anna Popelka (Vienna) – presented the Austrian Builder-Owner Award to six projects from a shortlist of 27.

    The award-winning projects:

    BTV Mitterweg branch, Innsbruck
    Builder-owners: Bank für Tirol und Vorarlberg AG (BTV), Innsbruck; Peter Gaugg (Executive Board spokesman), Matthias Moncher (Executive Board), Dietmar Strigl (Executive Board), Alois Zimmermann (project manager)
    Architect: Rainer Köberl, Innsbruck

    Initially, BTV Bank constructed a new branch in order to merge two nearby branches and create additional lettable space. However, during the nomination process it emerged that the construction site was too small for the proposed project specifications. The builder-owner purchased an adjoining plot of land and then invited the same six architects to submit revised proposals. The extravagantly tapered truncated pyramid on top of the building makes this a conspicuous landmark. The property is a strong counterpoint to the proliferation of buildings nearby, and attempts to establish ties with the existing surroundings. The visible building envelope, with its chessboard arrangement of white concrete slabs on a steel frame, filters the view from inside and out. The customer service area, workspaces and exterior spaces stand out for their aesthetic and functional quality. BTV staff were invited to share their ideas for the planning of the interior spaces.

    Lamprechtshausen station
    Builder-owners: Salzburger Lokalbahnen (SLB), Salzburg AG; Gunter Mackinger (Managing Director, Salzburger Lokalbahnen), Leonhard Schitter (Management Board), Christian Harl (project manager)
    Architects and landscape architects: udo heinrich architekten, Salzburg

    Lamprechtshausen has been the terminus for north-bound Salzburger Lokalbahnen services since 1896. An extension of the line to Braunau was planned, but never completed, which explains why the station was located well outside the town centre. Over the years it has become a transport hub for commuters from the northern Flachgau and Innviertel regions travelling to Salzburg. The building contractors and architects developed an innovative new station design with the aim of enhancing passenger convenience. By combining the station with a rail depot, it was possible to construct the new platform 300 metres closer to the town. The station is separated from the neighbouring business park to the north by irregularly formed, greened concrete walls that create a gill-like impression. The glazed facade of the station concourse facing the forecourt and the town allows excellent visual access to the interior, even in darkness. Skylights and a sophisticated artificial lighting concept help to create a sense of security at all times of the day and year. The staff rooms and ancillary rooms are housed in a low, red concrete wing in the eastern part of the station, tucked in below the concourse. Rising passenger numbers since the station entered operation are testimony to the appeal of the quality-conscious construction methods adopted at the site. The Lamprechtshausen development should serve as a role model for the countless Austrian railway stations in need of revitalisation.

    Fronius research and development centre, Thalheim
    Builder-owners: Fronius International GmbH, Thalheim; Heinz Hackl (Management Board), Josef Feichtinger (project manager)
    Architects: schneider+schumacher, Frankfurt am Main
    Landscape architects: GTL Landschaftsarchitekten, Kassel

    Founded in 1945, Upper Austrian-based Fronius International has grown to become a global technology leader in battery charging systems, welding technology and solar electronics. Functionality and efficiency are part of the company’s DNA – as reflected in the company’s new research and development facility in Thalheim. Five architectural firms were shortlisted and invited to tender for the project. The planning process drew on the professional expertise of the company’s 450 employees. The support structure was realised without central supports, and cables were laid in the floors and ceilings, making for a simple, flexible and clearly defined basic structure. All of the communal areas have direct access to the greened courtyards. The energy concept is centred around the use of renewables, as well as waste heat from the company’s laboratories. Water from the nearby River Traun is used to run the cooling systems in summer.

    Bad Blumau primary school and sports club
    Builder-owners: Bad Blumau local authority; Franz Handler (Mayor), Erna Erhart (primary school head), Rainer Baronigg (President, USC Bad Blumau sports club)
    Architects and landscape architects: Feyferlik/Fritzer, Graz

    The new primary school and sports ground are a significant part of the local authority’s investment in improving community infrastructure. Ten architectural firms were invited to tender for the project – twice the number recommended by the provincial authority. In response to a political initiative aimed at generating support for the renovation of the existing school, a referendum was held among the local population, who came out clearly in favour of the winning project, a completely new construction. Close consultation meant that the dedicated teaching staff and equally enthusiastic team of architects were quickly on the same wavelength when it came to ideas for creating “an ideal setting for contemporary forms of teaching”. The generously proportioned, polygonal classrooms have their own loggias which can be used for outdoor classes, allowing staff to use a range of teaching techniques. The spatial design goes far beyond the approaches commonly seen in Austrian schools. The sports club building, which also includes spectator stands, screens the school off from the nearby road. Together, the buildings form a community centre which integrates seamlessly with the surrounding properties. The overall impression is of a school where the oft-used image of environment as a “third teacher” truly comes into its own.

    Unipark Nonntal, University of Salzburg Faculty of Cultural and Social Sciences, Salzburg
    Builder-owners: BIG Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H., Vienna; Wolfgang Gleissner (Management Board), Hans-Peter Weiss (Management Board)
    Architects: Storch Ehlers Partner GbR Architekten BDA, Hanover
    Landscape architects: WES & Partner, Hamburg

    The new faculty building offers more than just an improvement in university infrastructure for the degree programmes based there. It is the centrepiece of a project aimed at revitalising and upgrading the Nonntal district, as well as providing a link to the neighbouring green spaces in the Freisaal area. The lead-up to the construction project involved a long-drawn-out urban planning process, which had the full support of Salzburg city council. This process specified the framework for the construction project, which was the subject of a Europe-wide architectural competition. The compact use of space enabled all of the requisite functions to be housed in an imposing, free-standing building which has become an eye-catching local landmark. The attractive outdoor areas are open to the general public, as well as the university’s students and staff. The bold contemporary design of the courtyard below the raised section of the building, above the base of the library, extends to the adjoining public thoroughfares and green spaces, and emanates into the surrounding areas. The roof – itself a publicly accessible ‘fifth facade’ – is punctuated by single faculty rooms.

    Town hall and town square, Kufstein
    Builder-owners: Kufsteiner Immobilien GmbH & Co KG, Kufstein town council; Martin Krumschnabel (Mayor), Karl Helbok (Municipal Secretary), Peter Borchert (Managing Director)
    Architects and landscape architects: ARGE Rainer Köberl, Giner + Wucherer, Innsbruck

    Kufstein town hall, parts of which date back to the Middle Ages, on Unterer Stadtplatz was in need of renovation, and had long been unsuitable as a location for the council offices. The aim was to transform the town hall, along with the adjoining Bildsteinhaus on Oberer Stadtplatz and the Paramentenstöckl section of the town hall adjacent to the St Vitus Church, into a citizen-friendly, multipurpose, barrier-free facility, and to blend all three components into an “architecturally valuable entity”. Irrespective of the building preservation and construction challenges, the team of architects approached this unique town-centre project with the required mix of respect for the historic complex of buildings and the courage required for such a delicate architectural intervention. The project was named as one of the leading submissions in the architectural competition, although it did not take first place. The proposal was revised in close consultation with the town council, but the main design elements – the relocation of the main entrance and a new council chamber on the roof of the building – were retained, creating a more coherent, homogeneous overall impression. Unterer Stadtplatz and the space in front of the town hall were not so much redesigned as given a tidier, more orderly feel.