10.10.2013 Florian Maier

Conversion of the Palais Rasumofsky in Vienna

The palais was built for Andrei Kirillowitsch Duke Rasumofsky, the former Russian ambassador under Czar Alexander during the time of the Viennese Congress of 1806. The central building was damaged during World War II and poorly repaired and maintained during the post-war period, leading to significant problems. The building is listed as a historical building and, therefore, careful reconstruction and analysis of new strategies was conducted in order to enhance the overall building structure.

Location: Rasumofskygasse 23, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Architects: Baar-Baarenfels Architekten
All inauthentic elements, such as the roof, stairs, and interior wall modifications were demolished and a new vertical circulation scheme was developed with the addition of an underground parking structure and support spaces.

The new aluminium roof envelope is supported by a steel truss system articulated by a series of Vierendeel trusses in alignment with the existing building. The penthouse apartment is surrounded by terraces and incorporates vertical full height glazing allowing a transparency with integrated sun protection fins to provide solar control. The roof sun protection, made from extruded aluminium fins, provides shading and framing , of exterior views.
The ground floor is primarily a 6 meter high art gallery space with two larger spaces connected by the insertion of a new second level gallery space spanned between two free-standing angled concrete slabs.
The 13.7m main elevator shaft is encased with self-supporting glass panels with an angled jointed steel plates to increase an overall lightness and transparency. The interior cabin is black glass on three sides and a glass ceiling to enhance the vertical experience connecting the existing historic spaces with the contemporary rooftop spaces overlooking the central park and adjacent buildings.
The judges said: ‘This, quite possibly, is a once in a lifetime opportunity to influence a 200-year-old building with great historical significance. The architect demonstrated through his actions the resolution of a paradox: the boldness of a design concept that in expression was delicate and articulate.’

More photos and drafts in the gallery
The other winners at the 2013 World Architecture Festival
The newly created reinforced organic concrete staircase is sleek in appearance due to the tapered structural form. A series of 3D milled moulds were used to create the complex free form geometry and providing an elegance to the vertical form without a physical connection to the wall support adding a lightness to the structural shape through light and shadow articulation.
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