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Department Store

Department Store



Department Store

LABVERT as Architects

LABVERT Designers Refurbish Storefront Facade in Wels“Windows of Wels” – A Facade with a View

The Vienna-based LABVERT design studio around chief designer StephanVary is responsible for the refurbishment of a storefront facade in the OldTown of Wels, Upper Austria. The architecture accommodates to the existingadjacent buildings from the 19th and 20th century while giving materialexpression to a contemporary interpretation of inner-city store architecture.

Store tradition & sky view: Proportions and dimensions adjusted to neighboring buildings

When, in the late 19th century, the first department stores opened in Europe’sbig cities, this was the first time that retailers sought to attract customers withglazed storefronts, large shop windows and passageways. Technological innovationmade it possible to open up closed facades and let the urban street lifepassing by get a glimpse of the glittering world of consumer goods. For thedesign of the storefront in Wels, LABVERT developed classical departmentstore architecture further by affording not only a view of the world ofconsumer goods, but also of the sky above.

Eight generously dimensioned windows dominate the square-grid facade.With their frames protruding from the wall at different angles, facingdifferent directions, they break up the rigid alignment pattern of the facade.The buildings around and across the street are reflected in the window panes.Townscape and sky, street life and goods display all flow into one another,the clear geometry of the building fits in with the ensemble of the neighboringfacades as well as with the paving-stone pattern in the street in front of thebuilding. But that’s not all yet.

Like in many Austrian towns and cities, the city center of Wels has becomepassé as a shopping district. Shopping malls on the outskirts have replaceddowntown department stores. So, commercially, there was no need for a thirdfloor to be added to the store, but architecturally, there was: to be even withthe height of the adjacent buildings LABVERT decided to, literally, put up afacade. The second upper floor which only exists as a screen facade wasassigned a new function: the top-floor windows provide the framing for threeviews up into the sky.

“The look into the consumer world turns into a view up into the sky.”

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Austin E. Knowlton Center
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Austin E. Knowlton Center

Berea, OH, USA - Build completed in 2020
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