Frog Queen / SPLITTERWERK

Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK
Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis,

Architects: SPLITTERWERK
Location: Graz, Steiermark,
Project team: Irene Berto, Mark Blaschitz, Erika Brunnermayer, Marius Ellwanger, Hannes Freiszmuth, Johann Grabner, Edith Hemmrich, Ute Himmelberg, Bernhard Kargl, Benjamin Nejedly, Josef Roschitz, Maik Rost, Ingrid Somitsch, Nikolaos Zachariadis
Client: PRISMA Engineering Maschinen- und Motorentechnik GmbH
Project Management: Ingenos ZT GmbH
Structural Consultant: werkraum zt-gmbh, Peter Bauer, David Lemp
Building Services Consultant: Ing. Rudolf Sonnek GmbH
HVACR Design: Guenter Grabner
Energy Consultant: Dr. Tomberger ZT GesmbH, Hannes Veitsberger
Electrical Design: Erich Watzke, Moskon & Busz GmbH, Rudolf Busz
Project Area: 1,400 sqm
Project year: 2009
Photographs: © Nikolaos Zachariadis

Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK

The Graz-based design collective SPLITTERWERK was commissioned to design this headquarters building for PRISMA Engineering, a machine and motor technology company also located in Graz. The objective was to design a structure which could house the company’s various research and development programs, and selectively showcase the work to a varied range of often competing clientele. Thus the building design needed to accommodate both high- end testing and presentation without jeopardizing the security and secrecy with which the work is developed.

Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK
Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK
Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK
Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK

The building form approximates a cube, measuring 18.125 x 18.125 x 17m, wrapped on all four elevations with a pixilated pattern of square panels. From a distance, these panels appear to be painted in a range of ten values of grey tone, together dematerializing the volume of the building against both the trees of the surrounding site and the clouds and sky. Thus the cubic building is at once monumental in its objecthood in the open landscape – scale-less and immaterial – and yet utterly non-iconographic in its overall form.

interior elevations
interior elevations

As is characteristic of their work, SPLITTERWERK was interested in developing a play between pictorial image and spatial experience. Working with the effects of dimension, distance, and time, the building’s skin was designed to generate shifting perceptions of the volume and texture. As one approaches the building, the cubic proportions of the volume become apparent, as does the finer grain of surface articulation on each panel, comprised not of a single grey tone but rather a tight grid of abstract pictorial figures. These figures might be interpreted as flowers, speaking to the surrounding fields, or gear wheels, suggestive of the highly secretive work happening inside the building. Each façade panel is itself nearly square, measuring 67 x 71.5-cm, and made of powder-coated aluminum, screen-printed with the various images. Integrated within this field of figures, deployed at the scale of both panel and building, windows and doors are similarly considered such that they essentially disappear within the composition of the façade.

Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK
Photo © Nikolaos Zachariadis, SPLITTERWERK

At the interior, individual office spaces are wallpapered with images of the surrounding Eastern Styrian landscape, creating a conceptual tension between the interior of the building envelope (narrative and pictorial) and the visual effects of its exterior panels (abstract and spatial). In this sense, the decorative strategy for both interior and exterior is conceived with certain landscape sensibilities in mind; a visual context which is simultaneously pictorial in its framed references and affective in the atmosphere it produces.

Cite: "Frog Queen / SPLITTERWERK" 28 Oct 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=38910>

18 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i serious love it. it’s amazing. the design has been very well interpreted from concept to physical form.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    wonderful…not certain about how the wall images will do over the lifespan of the building, but seems like it would be a great place to work.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    im sorry for being so negative, but I think that this calls for it. What an awful awful building! I am amazed that we architects still exist. Nice section, but overall an awful building.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      “I am amazed that we architects still exist”???? Dan you must be “The Architect”. Show as your work. We need to know what a real architect can do.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    A fairly attractive and dumb-in-a-good-way building. I don’t think the resolution is quite right. A finer grain might make it more intricate.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    An absolute winner. All stairs- would like to have seen that essential, constant transitional space- complete mirror cladding, yum.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Seriously, I’m stunned that this is garnering some really negative comments. I doubt it was meant as anything terribly serious…it doesn’t portend to be anything but a fun little building. It’s somewhat like a modern Ledoux customs house.

    Who can argue with fun?

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Active fronts ….. well for the audacity of lso architects … curtain refreshes a bit not so many fronts of wall glaze….

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