Smartvoll Wins The AZ Award

Feature by Milla Maria


As a property developer, I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for beautiful design, strong form and clever engineering. The reality is without them we wouldn’t have some of the worlds most recognisable buildings, we wouldn’t be able to preserve some of the worlds oldest structures and more importantly we would not be able to push design and engineering boundaries like we continue to do.
Buildings and houses would look very much like the square triangle picture you used to draw as a child,,,,, boring!!!

So when I come across Austrian architecture studio Smartvoll, I was immediately drawn to the uniqueness of their award-winning interior design for Loft Panzerhalle, in Salzburg Austria.

Their design captivates through specific, spatial dramaturgy (which basically means bringing together two elements). 350 square metres and two storeys, the classic idea of a “loft” is noticeable, yet is being reinterpreted in many ways.

I never play with the façade, I do not live there“, said Adolf Loos.

As Loos has concerned himself with definitions of space, 100 years later Smartvoll does the same. A special focus lies on the utilisation of materials and of what is technologically possible. The architecture unfolds on the inside, as smoothed and waxed concrete is one of the decisive materials for shaping and creating the interior.

“We wanted to revitalise the space’s original charm. Magnanimity and a spatial experience of both storeys were priorities. In all dimensions.”

Space is being preserved and enriched by completely new qualities and natural light is omnipresent through the entire loft, Smartvoll deciding to forgo typical mezzanines and left the upper ribbon window free. Bedroom, bathroom and guestroom are distributed throughout the space, as separate bodies with the epicentre being the kitchen a seven-meter-long block. The whole composition is rounded off by a concrete stair sculpture, which not only opens up all rooms but also appears to be carrying them.

“Through the stair sculpture, which spans across the rooms, you do not see the way between the levels as a vertical, functional connection, but rather as an electric spatial experience.”

Incidentally, the sculpture divides the room, creates a roof over the kitchen, recesses and elevations and therefore allows you to stay in motion – and to see everything from everywhere. The same applies to the glass shower, which protrudes from the fully glazed bathing block at a height of five meters. James-Bond décor like this can be found all over. The absolute highlight, albeit being a bit hidden, is the wellness area inclusive with its own fireplace.

The stairs are an architecture within the architecture. Concreted in-house, the engineering is being exhausted in all respects. A tender object with minimal dimensions, but tremendous spatial impact. Something that does not allow for competition: Besides the concrete, only subtle, semi-transparent materials are being used, such as Profilit, to separate the guest area, curtains for the bedroom and integrated furniture, like a hanging steel shelf. Every other piece of furniture seems to be integrated into the construction. An unalterable picture, which celebrates only free space.

“Connections of space and view are being held intact marvellously and the room is not being cut into different bodies, but can be experienced perfectly with its impressive height of eight meters.”

At the lower level, the room is connected to two balconies. However, even this façade aligns itself with the carriers of the concrete sculpture in the slant; the balconies look like additional alcoves of the overall concept. They feature a contemplative zen-garden, including a grassy knoll, a tree jasmine and a classic relax-terrace.

About Smartvoll

Smartvoll. It is not merely Phillip Buxbaum and Christian Kircher, Smartvoll is a team of unconventional thinkers and visionaries. Their focus lies unequivocally on the architectonic design process. Having the goal in mind, they always pursue new ways and try out diverging pathways to ultimately surprise with new and extraordinary solutions. No thought should be left unthought when you want to turn a vague starting situation into succinct clarity. The creative freedom during the design process is being completed by a structured realism during the realisation. Although, what should never be missing, is an unpretentious environment where one can have fun and laugh.


Photo credits: Tobias Colz/Smartvoll
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