Competition 1999 Execution 2000 - 2002 Wimmpassing, Lower Austria
Design Team: Karim Najjar, Rames Najjar, Heinrich Büchel, Melanie Danner, Bernhard Kratschmer
Consultants: Boll und Partner Stuttgart, Scholze Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Porsche and Partner KEG, Walter Prause
Photos: Manfred Seidi
In 1999, the Semperit Company held a competition calling for a landmark building reflecting the corporate identity. It was to provide space for the research and development section, which is mainly concerned with the testing of rubber products.
The dynamic two-story high-tech “tube” represents the international position and innovative potential of the company. At the gable end facing a federal highway it received an inclined two-story façade that may cause associations such as a “car grill or an “air intake” and affords views into the workspaces of the technicians.
The silvery aluminum tube rests on a mainly glazed rectangular base housing laboratories. The atrium in the center of the building serves an access zone to the different labs on the ground level. An open stair leads to the administration and executive offices on the first level.
The construction of the aluminum tube posed a big challenge: the most difficult part was to design an aluminum envelope that would wrap around the curvature as precisely as a car chassis. For that purpose the architects and builders had to resort to techniques common to ship builders. Essentially, the building was constructed like a ship hull carried by steel ribs. The curved shape might be read as referring to the company's specialty, the forming of plastic and rubber. Owing to this immaculate facade, and the consequent high- quality realization from beginning to end, the project was awarded the Austrian Aluminum Award in 2002 and the Best Architects Award in 2007.