Hypo Alpe-Adria-Center
The Hypo Alpe-Adria-Center building is situated approximately six kilometers East of the city center of Klagenfurt, Austria, where the expanding city meets the more suburban and agricultural regions. As with many edge-city conditions in the latter part of the twentieth century, most new construction in the area has resulted in dislocated fragments of buildings surrounded by open parking areas. This is further problematic considering the adjacency of large-scale commercial developments and the surrounding suburban housing areas.

The Morphosis concept begins with an integration of the inherent qualities of both rural and urban topologies. The diagram used was based on an urban topology in one direction, and a suburban or rural topology in the other. A large domed roof form incorporates the majority of the program and mimics the rural landscape to provide a conceptual linkage between the new building and the rural plowed fields. Pedestrian spaces are then carved into this building form, while most of the parking is placed below grade. A cardo and decumanus — derived from the existing street grid — are pulled through the landscape to organize the site. A public space is positioned along the decumanus where it directly connects to the existing street intersection. The plan sets the dense urban portion of the program to the south, along the busy Volkermarkterstrasse, and the low density housing to the north to blend with the existing suburban context.

The public corner entry to the forum, at the end of the decumanus, is marked by the civic invitational gesture of a large open canopy, inviting the social energy of city directly into the public realm of this new quarter, first with the immediate presentation of the bank and the event center, then on to a network of pedestrian walks internal to the commercial and office spaces. The northern portion of the site is a realm of greater light and air, gardens, and connection to the surrounding suburbs. Here the individual housing units and kindergarten find their various places, adapting to their immediate context along the edges of the site, within the primary axial structures.

The design approach is informed by multiple generative sources. The urban structure, stretched east-west across the site, is made to evoke a land form of reconfigured earth whose intention is to retain a conceptual open landscape. Over 50 percent of the program area is contained within this reconstructed fragment of rural topography including an event center, commercial space (ground floor), offices, and housing. Out of this sheet metal clad form emerges the bank headquarters structure itself, representing seismic shifts of tectonic plates and declaring its status as a major cultural and civic institution. This building form is a five-story mass that rises skyward in contrast to the two and three story curved roof “landscape” that lifts slowly from each corner of the site.

Departments within the building are organized around a central sky lit courtyard that allows light to penetrate down to 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. The bridges penetrate the facade to create balconies with views of the city streets to the North. The Northern wing of the building, clad in perforated aluminum, forms a mechanical penthouse and terminates in an exterior stair, which penetrates the South facade and links the executive floor with the roof terrace. Individual departments are given varied identities as the building forms intersect around the courtyard. A large Brise-soleil emerges on the south face of the building serving as a passive shade device to the glass curtain wall. Through the development of an urban concept that integrates both the urban and rural qualities of the site, the Hypo Bank project literally emerges from its context. It is not a freestanding object building, but rather an urban environment, which resolves the needs of the client while simultaneously addressing its relationship to the nearby city center and the surrounding rural landscape.

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