Viennese firm Zechner & Zechner have been awarded first prize in a competition to design a new office building in the courtyard of the historic Rossau Barracks building in downtown Vienna. The firm’s entry, called “Floating Double-X,” takes inspiration from the symmetry of its context to place a minimally invasive office block into the existing courtyard space.
The competition’s challenge was to design a new office building with room for 400 employees of the Ministry of National Defense and Sport within the existing inner court of the Rossauer Barracks. Due to the barrack’s status as a distinctive landmark of the city, the solution required a sensitive approach. Zechner & Zechner chose to address this by minimizing the interference between the new and existing buildings.
Using the architectural concept of “double symmetry,” the new building takes the form of a double-x shape in plan, aligned with the axes of the existing buildings. The facade is covered in a mirroring system that reflects the elevations of the barracks, creating a visual counterpart to the original building.
The structure is also functionality and environmentally unimposing; slender, irregular columns raise the building 5.5 meters above the ground, allowing users to continue to traverse the courtyard unimpeded, and passive techniques allow the project to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and sustainability. Through these techniques, the energy consumption for heating, cooling and lighting is minimized, and pedestrians can use the shade created from the building to escape the heat on a warm summer day.