Design studios/Professors Walter Angonese, Valerio Olgiati

Keywords: reinterpreting the site / multiplying functions / getting connected with the pre-existing

The mansion with a neo-Baroque façade located at Auerspergstraße 7 is one of the most interesting late nineteenth-century structures in the city and was expanded in the 1950s by adding a bland office building. The annex is a testimony to its period, which saw the architecture of the nineteenth century as a mistake: thus, there were no scruples about making grave alterations of the existing architectural structure. The expansion was created using the extant stairwell; due to the different height of the floors between the villa and the annex blocks a natural sense of orientation in the building. Against the backdrop of this contradictory architectural situation, the building was to be implemented with a “neutral, yet public” function from which the entire neighborhood could be “reprogrammed.” With a publicly used object like this, a debate can be held on whether we see these late nineteenth-century buildings as sacrosanct monuments, or if they possess a potential beyond its role as a museum.

In this spirit, the students of Walter Angonese took various approaches, in which maintaining the nineteenth-century mansion was put up for debate. A key aspect in all designs was to capture the respective spatial atmosphere and to construct an idea for a public building that could be used in various ways. This required a long process of reflection, an investigation of the historical and urban planning context, leading to a well-conceived project.

Photos: Günter Richard Wett