For architect Dipl.-Ing. Josef Weichenberger, PhilsPlace was a fantastic chance to experience the spirit of another era and the ideas of one of the best architects of his time, and to transfer these to a contemporary form.
What is it that gives the former Philips Building the status of an architectural icon?
The Philips was built in the year 1964 by the renowned architect Prof. Karl Schwanzer. It is characterized by a style that was highly innovative for the time in which it was constructed. The supporting framework of the high-rise building was built using prestressed concrete. The supporting structures of each story extend across four concrete pillars that are visible from the outside. This made it possible to keep the interior of the building consistently free of supports, with the exception of the stairwell and the elevator shaft. Due to the significance of the building as a symbol of post-war modernist Vienna, the Federal Monuments Office placed parts of the edifice under a preservation order.
What is the architectural concept behind PhilsPlace?
The concept is the conversion of a building that was originally constructed for a different purpose. In the case of Philips House, we took what was purely office space and designed a modern form of use for residential purposes. If a building is suitable for conversion, we see it as a sustainably innovative construction. This meant that in the course of the development, so-called micro-apartments were created, whose mode of operation advanced to become today’s PhilsPlace.
What challenges arose during the planning phase?
The first step was about “reading” the existing building – that is to say, understanding it in order to discover its visible and hidden qualities. We viewed and analyzed countless, well documented records in the archive. Then it was on to the conceptual planning. We developed sample floor plans, examined the typological diversity and integrated the strict grid dimension as we did so, since the windows are also subject to protection as part of the historical monument.
What challenging circumstances did you face in the construction phase?
Naturally, the construction phase came with its occasional surprises – for example, Karl Schwanzer overestimated the protrusion of the corner areas in the overhangs. The ceilings did not slope down to meet the calculated height. So we had to learn to make such “tolerance variations” work in the implementation. But the biggest surprise was finding out that this building from the 60s actually conforms to today’s standards without the need for serious retrofitting measures.
What makes PhilsPlace so special for guests to live in?
On the one hand, the special living atmosphere, which brings the charm of the 1960s into harmony with contemporary living. On the other, guests also enjoy the unique quality of the location right by the Wienerberg, with an unobstructed view either toward the city center or toward the south all the way to the Schneeberg. Within the building itself, guests are also optimally cared for. As a vertical village, PhilsPlace offers a fitness studio, two food markets and parking spaces in front of the building – as well as the new U2 subway station set to open soon around the corner.
What do you personally like about PhilsPlace?
In my point of view, this new form of living, combined with an innovative investment model, is very forward-looking. With this living model, thanks to the small-scale compartmentalization of the units, we are now able to react to other potential locations and existing properties without having to make compromises. In this way, we can reinforce qualities that are already present and convey a new way of living.
More details available at http://weichenberger.at/projekte/phi-philips-haus/#
portrait: ©Josef Weichenberger architects + Partner