The crème de la Caramel

03 Nov 2009

Austrian architects complete new showcase building

The fist of five buildings to form a new Science Park at the Johannes Kepler University in the Austrian city of Linz has been completed. The project, by Vienna based architects Caramel, won the urban design competition for the site in April 2008. A further four buildings are yet to begin construction.

The 160 metre steel-framed Mechatronik building forms a bridge, which enables the design to incorporate curved, structural lines. By avoiding a static, grid-like appearance, the building seems to relax into its surroundings. The slope of the landscape has been hollowed out to form the basement and this allows the Mechatronik to sit closely among the existing university buildings and flow seamlessly into the city beyond.

The Science Park aims to attract potential researchers and corporate partnerships to the university and this goal has been carried forward into the design of the Mechatronik. The 14,000 sq m interior features a glazed central area which encourages communication throughout the building and flexible, open areas between rooms to facilitate the exchange of ideas between departments. The gentle, flowing lines of the exterior of the building are mirrored in the interior, which features double height spaces and a flexible, open layout.

At a cost of around 22 million Euros, the Mechatronik forms the first corner of a square. Once the other corners are complete, a central building will form the final phase which is scheduled for completion in 2014 at a total cost of 80-100 million Euros. The project is the largest and most costly to take place in the region in recent years.

Chosen as Liverpool’s successor to the title of European Capital of Culture 2009, the city of Linz has undergone a huge transformation in an attempt to marry art and industry and create a vision of a sustainable modern city. The Science Park forms part of this concept both architecturally and as a result of its function. Other projects taking place over the year have included a new Media Arts centre on the banks of the Danube and the rebuilding of Linz Castle.

Vikki Graves

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