The Austria Center Vienna recently unveiled the largest construction project at the venue since its opening around 30 years ago. A new access building with skywalk and three additional entrances will make it more convenient to use the different levels for separate events held in parallel. An attractive canopy – the danubeSAIL – will also be added to the square outside the building. By the time work is completed in 2022, this area will be transformed into a public space that brings people together, and adds a further 4,200m² for events in either closed or open formats.
Clear specifications for upgrades
One important aim was to open up the venue more: at present there is just one entrance, which can complicate access for visitors on their way to the four different levels, particularly when several events are being held in parallel at the venue. Another part of the brief was to come up with a concept for the square in front of the main entrance that would put it at congresses organisers’ disposal while making the space more attractive overall and opening it up for local residents and passers-by. A jury of architects, local authority representatives, congress and tourist experts and representatives of the owners selected Austrian ARGE member Dietrich I Untertrifaller and Vasko and Partner as the winners.
Improved access to the building and additional 4,200m² of event space
A new entrance building in front of the existing main entrance allows each of the four levels to be accessed separately while shortening the length of time it takes to move around the main building and the exhibition halls. Ease of access from the main square will come as a welcome upgrade for smaller events in particular. A modern, glass-fronted external gallery floods the space with light, and the existing terraces – particularly those on the upper floors – will be extended and made more appealing. Parts of the roof of the new access building will feature extensive greenery. A partially transparent canopy – the danubeSAIL – will be constructed on the square. This gives structure to the empty and largely unused space, turning it into a place where people choose to spend time. If required, the area beneath the danubeSAIL can be closed off to create a multifunctional 4,200m² hall which can be used by events and congresses for a wide variety of purposes.
danubeSAIL – a new urban landmark
Architect Much Untertrifaller describes the special challenge facing the studios competing for the tender: “The brief was not just to come up with a multi-functional event space, but also to clearly define the area as an address in its own right with the creation of an urban landmark.” Construction work is due to start in April 2019, with the danubeSAIL slated for completion in March 2020. The entire project is scheduled to be wrapped up in spring 2022. With total costs amounting to EUR 32 million, the project will be financed by the venue’s owner – the Republic of Austria – and the City of Vienna. Finance Minister Hartwig Löger: “The Austria Center Vienna has established a highly successful model. As a result, the Ministry of Finance has consciously chosen to make this investment, as it ensures that the venue will remain competitive internationally.”