Schloss Orth / synn architekten

© Rupert Steiner

Architects: synn architekten + nonconform + MAGK
Location: Orth an der Donau, Austria
Client: Nationalpark Donauauen
Site Area: 11,347 sqm
Conversion of the Castle Budget: 2,4 Mill Euro
Reconstruction of the Façade Budget: 960,000 Euro
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: Rupert Steiner

The principle of “furcation” provided a basis for the concept of this project. Furcation originates from the Latin name furca – fork, it indicates the branching of rivers into two or more creeks with almost the same profile.

The new access to the castle and the internal circulation was all carried out in accordance with this principle. Also corresponding to the furcation principle is the coverage of the building and the route organization, which is based upon the definition of one main path. This starts at the beginning of the bridge, splits up inside the building, and eventually comes together again in the courtyard.

ground floor plan

Ramps along the path guide visitors, both in terms of where they walk and where they look. The ramps help to accommodate level changes between the inside and the outside of the building and generate areas where visitors can sit and relax. The “vista” staircase visually completes the courtyard.

© Rupert Steiner

The most obvious indication form the outside is the aforementioned newly constructed access to the castle. The clients required a kind of gate to the national park which would be visible form far away. Coming from either direction on the main street the access is clearly perceived as a new element, and generates interest. It begins as a kind of optical illusion formed from the entrance canopy and develops in height as it leads away from the street and approaches the castle. Handrails have been included which appear at intervals as the pathway rises and falls and snakes its way towards the castle.

© Rupert Steiner

The design of the entrance construction, clad in perforated sheets, serves as an indication, focusing the gaze and framing the surrounding nature for the visitors.

Under an tight budget the architects were able to produce an eye-catching introduction to this beautiful national park, thereby encouraging visits here.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Schloss Orth / synn architekten" 20 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • http://- Rule

    love it, great expression!Would like to see a night shot from the gate,respect.

  • +++

    some nice folding action going on here

  • Yorik

    Wow, nice and sensitive work… The guys weren’t afraid to “attack” the existing castle, and I think they managed to prove that you can do very contemporary work on an old building without loosing its personality and beauty, unlike many people unfortunately still believe. Very good reference to keep…

  • PatrickLBC

    Love the juxtaposition of old vs. new. Much more respectful than building a faux/themed addition that tries to look old.

    • Case

      I’m with you… I always like that sort of contrast when it’s done well and compliments the existing.

  • Ingo ratsdorf

    A not too bad example of heritage design, although following the good old tradition of contrast.
    This is very common in Germany and apparently in Austria as well. Goal of such design is to provide clear contrast between old and new and to only “loosely” attach to the old protected structure.
    In saying so, Austria also seem to suffer from grayscale architecture, both for hertitage and modern design.
    Some historic places operators including conservationists are fighting for years to have colour on the old buildings as they used to have. Big controversial fights going on for decades, only little advancement over the years.
    Nevertheless I believe the design in this case is rather good, “funneling” people inside, although most of the exterior emergency egress staircase is nothing new, a rather conventional engineers structure with a screen. Effective, but nothing fancy.

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