VIENNA (AT) - The nucleus of Austria's electricity supply lies in Vienna-Oberlaa and until 2008 it was housed in an ageing building dating from the 1980s. But times, and in particular technical and security requirements, change. Terrorist attacks and falling aircraft will have no impact on the new, state-of-the-art building. In 2006, apm architekten won an invited competition for the new power plant with a design that ticked all the competition brief's boxes, including that of 'architectural landmark' and 'energy efficient'.
A whole series of technical systems, from advanced computer systems to climate control, are present in duplicate in case any one of them should fail. In the design, this fail-safe setup is reflected in a mirror layout along a central axis. The architects also had to allow for a hierarchical security concept that keeps publicly accessible spaces strictly separated from staff areas. However, in keeping with the client's express wish, the 'nerve centre' of the building, the control room, is clearly visible. This resulted in a dome-shaped 'head', a clear routing and spaces of varying heights.
A double-layer roof (it had to be absolutely watertight) covers the complex. Those spaces that did not have to be screened off from outsiders have a transparent character thanks to the use of copious glass and an open steel frame structure.
The energy-efficient concept includes a sophisticated heat-recovery system. In summer excess heat is stored in the earth (space cooling) and reused in winter (space heating). Mounted in the centre of the roof is an array of pivoted glass louvres with integrated photovoltaic cells. The louvres turn in the direction of maximum light in response to a sensor. Rainwater from the roof is channelled to three underground storage basins and is used to water the surrounding lawns. (Hannah Schubert)