DEUTSCH-WAGRAM – The well-known phrase ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’ falls to pieces thanks to PPAG Architects’ Pah Cej Kah. In a commercial area next to the train station of a town to the northeast of Vienna, a new multi-use building that both facilitates private clients and piques public curiosity.
The firm describes the project as a tiered ‘artificial mountain’, topped off with a small garden on the roof. If that doesn’t get the legs shaking and the adrenaline pumping, the access to the top surely will. Visitors are invited to climb the ‘sprawling titanic stairs’ – that twist around the building in a cantilevered form – to reach the rooftop park.
Completed in September 2016, the stepped pyramid is already well inhabited with a variety of small businesses, as well as a top-floor restaurant and a collection of offices – clearly a building that is bigger than it looks! – with golden railings that surround the terraces at each stacked level. The architecture is simple and plain, with vertical cladding and floor-to-ceiling windows providing access onto the balconies. It is certainly the extravagant staircase that provides the sculptural interest.
‘The stairs provide a sort of terrace, both for the people working here and for the public,’ explains the firm. ‘It’s a means of “adding value”. Saving internal space turns into creating more open space and changes the way that the public can use a building that, for the most part, is actually occupied by private offices.’ Sometimes in architecture, when searching for a deep and hidden meaning, there is a moment of realization that, despite the boundaries of regulations, creativity should not find itself limited to ‘the expected’. Although this carefree attitude is not entirely the intention of PPAG, in some ways the project’s indulgence gives inspiration to rising architects to break the boundaries and try something new ‘because you can’.