When the New Respects the Old

The Kasematten – the Cultural Centre of Wiener Neustadt

The cultural centre in Wiener Neustadt is distinguished by the high-quality and integrated upgrade of the built heritage in terms of space, material, design, architecture, and topography, making it a city-shaping segment.

Photo: David Schreyer

Photo: David Schreyer

Wiener Neustadt, a city with 46,000 inhabitants, is the second largest city in the state of Lower Austria, and known for one of the world’s oldest military academies. The Theresian Military Academy, located in a former castle, was established in 1752 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to train officers of the Austrian Army. South of the Bahnhofstrasse, between the Military Academy and the train station, are the remains of the mighty former defensive wall with numerous contemporary elements and facilities which conceal its presence and burrow into the city park. The oldest parts of the defensive wall were constructed in the 12th century, and in the 16th century in its south-west corner the formidable vaulted cellars were built – the casemates which the city used for the storage of military equipment, while the space under them was intended for the gathering of defenders and the taking of arms before they took their positions on the city wall. In the 19th century, the casemates were used by a brewery as a beer warehouse, and during World War II their vaulted space was used as an air-raid shelter. The casemates saw the beginning of the 21st century partially rebuilt and mostly well-preserved, as they were ‘protected’ from interventions with a seven-metre covering layer of earth.

With the support of the State Government, the municipal authorities decided to rearrange this historically important and unique building structure along with the pertinent degraded urban space on the north edge of the city park, expose its qualities and give it to public use. The municipality launched a competition in 2016 to seek the most appropriate solution for the setting up of a small, yet spatially and historically evocative cultural centre important for both the city and region. The expert commission was most convinced by the bold revealing of the historical, with an ingenious integration of the appropriately measured architectural interventions of the proposal by the architectural office Bevk Perović Architects.

Photo: David Schreyer

Photo: David Schreyer

Project data

Architectural Office
Bevk Perović arhitekti d.o.o.

Architectural team
Matija Bevk, Vasa J. Perović, Johannes Paar, Christophe Riss, Mitja Usenik, Blaz Goričan, Irene Salord, Maša Kovač, Juan Miguel Hererro, Vid Tancer, Andrej Ukmar

Client
Mesto Wiener Neustadt / The City of Wiener Neustadt

Project
2016 – 2018

Completion
2018 – 2019

The complete article is published in Autumn 2020 issue of Piranesi No. 42-43/Vol. 28.

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