The building integrates inherent complexities at the shifting border between rural and urban typologies; its form emanates from both the pre-Alpine contoured landscape and the narrow, twisting passages and plazas of a small village. The Center is located just east of Klagenfurt, Austria, where the city extends into its outlying suburban and agricultural regions. As with many contemporary edge-city conditions, the site is surrounded by dislocated buildings, open parking areas, large-scale commercial developments, and residential suburbs.
The sloping, sharply folded roof creates a conceptual landscape, while the low-rise building component emerges from the ground as reconfigured earth. Like the seismic shifting of tectonic plates, the five-story bank headquarters juts out of the earthbound lower form. The center’s separate volumes intersect around a central courtyard, which allows light to permeate the branch bank on the ground floor. Bridges at each floor link the elevator core and lobbies along the edge of the courtyard with the larger building mass, and continue out to puncture the façade and create balconies overlooking the city streets.
Pedestrian pathways are an extension of the existing peripheral streets: the intersecting cardo and decumanus axes carve into the building conglomeration. At the southern end of the decumanus, a large canopy connects the public forum space directly to the busy Volkermarkt Strasse intersection, inviting the public into the events center and bank branch. At the northern section of the site, open gardens, commercial and office space, and the kindergarten transition into the neighboring low-density suburban residential zone. Both program (typology) and form (topography) re-define the role of Hypo bank, to become a major cultural and civic institution.
The Hypo Bank continues research into passive cooling and lighting techniques begun in earlier works such as Sun Tower and International Elementary School and furthered later in the San Francisco Federal Building and Caltrans Headquarters.
A vast, curved roof “landscape” of perforated aluminum wraps around the exterior of the structure and shelters the majority of the program from the sun, reducing dependency on electrical cooling.