Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos . eep architekten

Joanneum Quarter . Graz

more: Joanneum Quarter . © ARGE Museumsviertel / Nieto Sobejano Arquitectoseep architekten . photos: UMJ / N. Lackner

Three historic buildings of various periods – the Lesliehof in Raubergasse, the Neutorgasse museum building and the main building of the Styrian State Library in Kalchberggasse – are being combined to make a new Joanneum Quarter. This complex of venerable buildings is being refashioned into a new modern centre for art, culture and knowledge in downtown Graz. When it is complete, it will be occupied by three of the Joanneum’s institutions (the Neue Galerie, the Multimedia Collections and the Natural History Museum) plus the Styrian State Library. A subterranean visitor centre will link them all, acting simultaneously as a main entrance, impressive information centre and primary point of orientation for the entire institutional complex.

A circular courtyard leads into the Visitors’ Centre, which contains information desks, ticket offices plus a well-stocked museum shop. The first contacts with the museums are the Multimedia Collections and an exhibition area for contemporary art. The large reference library of the Styrian State Library offers readers a wide range of facilities, including books, e-books, CDs, DVDs, computer workstations and W-LAN, making it a place in modern learning. Multifunctional events and interpretation areas plus infrastructure institutions round off the facilities for visitors. Although access to the Joanneum Quarter is underground, the Visitors’ Centre is lit by natural daylight entering through large conical lights, which create a spacious, agreeably reticent atmosphere.
The architectural scheme was provided by Madrid architects ARGE Nieto Sobejano and Graz architects eep. The plan brings out the best in every building, and makes do with only one directly visible intervention, which is almost invisible in the urban setting. Whereas the historic centre of Graz is particularly famous for its unique roof landscape, this project is handled underground. A mineral covering stretching over the area between the buildings conceals the new facilities within. The Plaza created above the Visitors’ Centre will become a versatile place of cultural encounters, artistic interventions in public space, and a dialogue between culture and the city.
The client managing the Joanneum Quarter scheme is the Landesimmobilien-Gesellschaft Steiermark (LIG), which had to reconcile and coordinate a wide range of interests and specifications for this building project. The design and the construction have made great demands on everyone involved. Not only refurbishing work is involved. At the same time, extensive technical and functional adjustments have been made in line with modern museum operation. This enabled modern air conditioning, heating, lighting and security technology to be installed in the interiors of the existing buildings with minimal interventions that changed neither the appearance nor the volumes of the rooms.
The Joanneum Quarter will constitute a European-style modern cultural cluster that will provide a welcoming and contemporary home for the art, cultural and educational treasures of Styria for future generations as well. The Quarter will be ceremonially opened on 26th November 2011 together with the first exhibitions at the Neue Galerie and at the Multimedia Collections in its new location, the presentation of the Visitors’ Centre, and the opening of the reading rooms and
lending library of the Styrian State Library. All other parts of the Styrian State Library will be completed by the end of June 2012. The Natural History Museum will open on in 2013.

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