Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Hartenaugasse Office Building in Styria, Austria by Ernst Giselbrecht + Partner ZT GmbH
February 22nd, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Ernst Giselbrecht + Partner ZT GmbH
For an architect, the task of giving a manor house a new purpose and function is of course a fascinating, yet also complex, challenge. Villas such as Hartenaugasse 6 rank at the very top of the range of desirable residences. Yet the shape of living space today has changed altogether fundamentally in comparison with the ideas prevailing at the time the villas were designed. This accounts for the fact that many of these buildings are put to other uses today.
They are often subdivided into apartments or turned into hotels – or they serve as prestigious headquarters for companies. But often they suffer the same fate as the Sleeping Beauty, albeit never to be awoken with a kiss; they become derelict and are then demolished.
The villa at Hartenaugasse 6 developed in a different direction – the roof was converted to a studio for free-thinkers – according to the wording of the contract for the roof extension that was carried out many years ago. Subsequently the ground floor and first floor were restored and transformed for use as a lawyer’s office.
Thanks to the broad-mindedness of the development and restoration it is still possible today to recognise the original form of the villa. Modern elements were introduced and, in combination with the historical context, the result is an exciting architectural entity.
What we find today is not an extension but rather a second villa, demonstrating a new interpretation in contemporary architectural style. Approximately equivalent in size and floor space, it highlights how the times and architecture have changed – but also how the respective qualities get along.
The finely chased façade of the historic villa shows how architecture can offer a counterpoint to the natural landscape, thereby contributing to the development of this park-like area.
In contrast, the new villa demonstrates the landscape being reflected in the forward-mounted facade, indeed how the landscape reflected in the forward-mounted facade becomes a design feature, ever changing due to the openable panels and creating new images of nature. This also serves to demonstrate the new significance of nature in urban space.
One distinctive feature is the slightly curved form of the new façade set before the rational and economically optimised form of the office building. This is today’s architecture’s counterpart to the artisan skill of history. Connecting the two villas is a transparent staircase, which serves today’s requirements for emergency means of escape etc.
whilst also incorporating a convenient lift. Given that today we find modern, multi-functional offices, which arose with the theme “working in the park”, it is clearly necessary to keep a city and urbanity lively and not to preserve them in their historic form. Not merely should the park landscape be reflected in the façade, but the building should also be a visible emblem of company culture and serve to reinforce staff commitment.