Architects: Schneider & Lengauer
Location: Wallern, Upper Austria
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Anne Isopp, Kurt Hoerbst
From the architect. The borders of the property - a vacant lot close to the centre in the Upper Austrian town Wallern - precisely define the foundation of this solid concrete construction, which was completed in 2009. The expressive shape of the building does not originate in the need for architectural statements, but expresses a clear answer to the task of designing the building: maximum usability on a minimum footprint. Despite the cramped plot, bordered by two old buildings, the multi-purpose structure provides space for events with up to 400 people. The two upper floors cantilever out into the street, thus expanding the available space inside and providing covered access outside.
North of the multi-purpose building is the pub Schaich, which was functionally integrated into the design of the new structure. Visitors access the multi-purpose building through a passage on the ground floor of Schaich's dining room. The pub's lavatories, located on the lower ground floor, have been redesigned and may be visited by event guests. If required, the pub owners supply the adjacent convention centre gastronomically, unless another caterer draws on the integrated facilities (kitchen etc.) of the multi-purpose building.
The facade of the building is cladded with the sheet 'Tecu Gold', a high-quality alloy of copper and aluminium. This gives the public building the visual emphasis that makes it stand out from the confinement of the site - a small place called 'Schranne', which is barely visible from Wallern's main square. Even after many years, 'Tecu Gold' barely shows any traces of patina, thus ensuring uniform gloss for a long time. Due to the smooth surface of the material, rain does most of the facade's cleaning.
The ridge height of the pitched roof construction is oriented towards both neighbouring buildings. On the second floor, the dormer, with its glazed front and the broad band of windows next to it, are striking. Both face west, in the direction of 'Schranne', and generously open the building to the exterior.
The interior consists of three levels. The ground floor can be flexibly transformed: from a large hall with concert seating to an educational and presentation setting with two different sized conference rooms, and a room for smaller events. From the foyer, two staircases make both upper floors accessible. Altogether, they meet the building regulation for the width of escape routes, but they primarily invite to a vertical stroll, as guests might do during a ball. There is a visitors' gallery on the first floor, which reveals the hall on the ground floor as well as the stage. A stepped retractable grandstand provides additional public space in the gallery on the second floor. When the platform is recessed, the gallery can be equipped with tables.
The two bars on the ground floor ('Moments') and on the first floor ('Highlights') act as the communication hubs of the building. Finger-like, they also extend the structure into the existing building of the neighbouring pub. The bars, designed in dark wood, are silhouetted against the majority of the interior, which presents itself in white pigmented oak veneer whose varying surface structure provides for excellent acoustics. Sparsely used colour accents, for instance Japanese Red on the curtains, round off the overall visual impression.
In terms of civil engineering physics, Wallern's multi-purpose building effortlessly meets the low-energy standards, thanks to its high insulation. Planners faced some challenges due to a cased brook above foundation level in the basement: not only are the lavatories located here, but also rooms for the building's facilities, such as a heat pump that uses the creek's water for space heating and cooling.