Viennese architectural firm AllesWirdGut opened the Technology and Design Centre in St. Pölten, Lower Austria in October, one month after completion of the two-year project.
The new building unites WIFI Lower Austria and the New Design University St. Pölten under one roof, combining continuing education for technical professions with university-level design and engineering programmes of study.The first floor is devoted to the university, while the ground floor and basement is for the WIFI laboratory, teaching rooms, IT rooms and workshops.
Aside from creating a contemporary working atmosphere, the architects wanted to create a high degree of interdisciplinarity. The architectural concept therefore centred on the communication between different types of users.
A common lobby connects all floors and public areas such as the auditorium, break and presentation areas. The lobby opens onto an inner courtyard which unfolds into a large plaza between the new building and the existing WIFI main building and functions as a central meeting area, promoting the exchange of ideas.
Other meeting areas inside the building also promote exchange and informal learning. The firm placed great emphasis on an engaging mix of workshops, spaces of study and seminar rooms to encourage the spontaneous mingling of theory and practice.
Making form and function visible from both inside and outside the building was also a key part of the project and the new building certainly achieves this. It has a distinctive character, defined by V-shaped columns. The construction and MEP facilities are also fully exposed with no cladding or opaque building skin, suggesting clarity and transparency, but also providing a literal object lesson to the prospective technicians and designers who will be working and studying in the building.
The construction was pared back to the essentials, a principle which also informed the choice of materials used. A thermal skin of glass provides for maximum transparency, while the use of concrete as the primary structural construction material nods to the neighbouring WIFI main building, a heritage-protected exposed-concrete construction by Karl Schwanzer.