Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cloud Tower by next-ENTERprise

The pavilion inserts itself into the landscape and, through its topographical configuration, reinterprets formal elements of the landscape garden — the play with perspective and visual relations, with contraction and expansion, with enclosure and opening.
Cloud Tower/ Wolkenturm Schlosspark Grafenegg
Design Team: next-ENTERprise
Location: Grafenegg, Österreich, Austria
Status: Completion June 2007

In 2007, the centuries-old architectural landscape of Grafenegg was enhanced by the addition of an open-air stage, which slots into the landscaped gardens like a giant pavilion. The building, designed by architects Marie-Therese Harnoncourt and Ernst J. Fuchs of the next-ENTERprise stands in a natural hollow and harmonises perfectly with its surroundings.

The Wolkenturm is a sculpture which ranges a good 15 metres into the sky, level with the tops of the highest trees, and offers an unexpected view from a range of different perspectives. Here, on the eastern side of the park, the viewer finds a reciprocal relationship between culture and nature. Slanting, unaligned windows fill the arena with light and give an impression of natural airiness. From the seating stands, which have space for 1,730 concertgoers, the view is of the historic castle in its romantic setting.

The open-air pavilion is used as a stage during festival season in summer, and as an attraction for excursionists and flaneurs — similar to the gazebos in historical landscape gardens, which were designed as a destination or a stop-over on extended walks.

The 'Schneise' (loosely translated: an incision in the landscape) creates a vista linking the riding school to the 'Black Gate', and serves as an entrance to and a passage through the auditorium area. The staging of views and spatial sequences, the framing and hiding of points of attraction, often achieved by the meandering layout of paths in the traditional landscape garden, is a theme taken up by varying the elevation of the incision to achieve this effects. Coming from the castle, the visitor is enticed to proceed by the silhouette of the 'cloud tower', visible behind the artificial mound. Immersing himself into the incision, he tunnels through the hill and — after passing this deep narrow — enters the wide arena of the auditorium and the stage, the 'cloud tower' of the stage roof suspended above it.

The basic rule of acoustics for open-air stages, 'what you see is what you hear' serves as a cue to explore affinities between perspective and acoustic space. The topography of the existing depression - the 'Große Senke' - is amplified by modeling the terrain. Artificial hillocks are created by further excavating the depression and subsequently redistributing the soil at its perimeter. Clearly distinguished from the natural terrain by their geometry, stage and auditorium nonetheless merge fluidly with the topography of the site. The stage roof is designed as an autonomous, sculptured object. Suspended above the landscape on a level with the tree canopies, it is placed among the groups of trees as if it were one more of them. The shiny metal surface on the outside reflects the sky and the trees, turning into a cloud-tower.

The Wolkenturm was awarded the Building Prize of Lower Austria in 2007.

via next-ENTERprise