VIENNA – Far from the traditional, baroque opulence of the historical city centre, the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC) headquarters has landed like a UFO on the outskirts of the Austrian capital. The region’s suburban border leaves a lot to be desired, with scatterings of commercial outlets and industrial buildings offering a site surrounded by monotonous ‘block and slab’-style buildings, but local architect Pichler & Taupmann’s giant, glass-ringed structure creates an icon to give the neighbouring area an architectural boost.
The sculptural design of the new headquarters is defined by the club’s motivations within the consumer market. ‘ÖAMTC’s mission statement provides the idea that all knowledge, facilities and ambitions should come together in the most efficient way to support their customers,’ says founding architect Hannes Traupmann. ‘This was the key to our design approach: the cooperative character of all the activities within the club should be legible within and outside of the building for employees, as well as customers.’
Having opened in March this year, the centre allows the company to offer their services – which include breakdown assistance, technical facilitiesand legal help – to a larger audience than ever before. The building promises to inspire openness and communication internally between employees and further afield to its followers. Event halls, conference rooms and a TV studio are publically accessible, while offices and call centres are primarily for employee use.
Says Traupmann: ‘The whole programme spirals around a vertical spine; an open atrium that is organised to provide visual and physical connections between all levels.’ With functional facilities arranged at the fully-glazed perimeter of the cylindrical hall, the central plan revolves around mobility and transparency.
‘[The design’s shape] was brought to the table in sketches referring to the fact that the club plays a highly esteemed role in society and, therefore, deserves some kind of iconicity,’ Traupmann concludes. ‘The building is beyond any “box character” and contradicts the suburban, commercial typology.’ The structure’s powerful character demands attention and triggers inspiration for future development in Vienna’s wider districts.