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Courthouse, St. Pölten, Austria

Chris Hodson

How to convincingly respect historic context while meeting modern building demands – that was the problem faced by the designers of this courthouse extension in the Austrian city of St. Pölten.

Architects Christian Kronaus + Erhard An-He Kinzelbach’s solution takes its inspiration from the distinctive rusticated masonry facade of the adjacent courthouse, set out in horizontal bands, some narrow, others wide. This rhythmic horizontality is applied in a thoroughly contemporary way across the complete surface of the new building. Carefully detailed bands of a golden copper alloy create lateral shadow gaps across the facades, reflecting those of the original masonry, while all vertical joints are concealed.

This horizontal grid also defines a playful, abstract composition of fenestration, acknowledging yet subverting the symmetry of its neighbour. A design strategy of mixing window heights – at the ceiling or floor, or between with opening casements – dissolves any expression of floor levels externally. Without inhibiting the realisation of a thoroughly modern 5-storey office building, the new addition retains the same height as its 3-storey classical neighbour without conflict. Its deep window reveals, some splayed, add to the masonry illusion, belying the copper alloy’s thin, lightweight character.

The architects commented: “The choice of the golden copper alloy facade supports architectural dialogue between the two buildings significantly. The material interprets the dominant yellow tone of the old buildings rather than just replicating it. Through the inherent richness of the material, the building gets a pleasant and warm character that varies continuously, depending on changing light conditions over time. This brings the building to life – literally.” This new building embodies much of the character of its historic neighbour without compromising on its independent and contemporary expression.  

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Building

Completion date: 
2011
Country: 
Austria
City: 
St. Pölten
Street: 
Andreas Hofer-Straße, 3100
Location: 

Categories

Applications: 
Facades
Type of building: 
Office buildings
Copper used: 
Golden alloy
Estate: 
Upgrade

Architect

Name, office: 
Christian Kronaus

Copper contractors

Title: 
Pasteiner GmbH.

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Nick Hay

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