The headquarters, whichconsist of a main building and an extension that was realized in the 1970s, no longer met the needs of amodern Advice and Health Center. Hence, the Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen (SVS)(formerly SVA) commissioned ATP architects engineers, Vienna to “radically” renovate the entire complex in consortium with Hinterwirth Architekten. The conceptfor the general refurbishment andmodernization was based on the“Real Estate Strategy 2020” from M.O.O.CON.
As well as improving the working environment of the employees, the measures were designed tooptimize the spaces to permit more flexible use and to improve the energy efficiency. During the two-year construction period, the façade, the building services, and the interiors of the office tower were completely upgraded. The ground floor, with its Advice Center, café, canteen,and entrance area were also reorganized, as was the adjacent Health Center, andthe two buildings were connected by the stair tower. The general refurbishment created a modern, homogenousheadquarters, which also signals these new qualities in its external appearance.
In 2021, the SVS headquarters were nominated for the Vienna Urban Renewal Award. The prize honors particularly successful refurbishment andrevitalization projects that enhance the cityscape of Vienna.
[the challenge of refurbishment]
As a basis for the detailed design, the initial information gathering processincluded a comprehensiveanalysis of the existing building,which focused upon fire protection, building services, and shell & coreissues and laid the foundation for a smooth rebuilding process. However, given that only some of the originalplans were available, test openings had to be made before construction could start. In addition to this, as soon as the interiors had been removed, the shell of the building was surveyedin detail as a basis for the execution design.The reorganizationof the main plant room and the technical service runs, in combination with the restricted floor-to-ceiling heights,presented a particularchallenge. The impact of this on the required interventions in the original shell & core also had to be taken into account.
“Refurbishment work constantly presents greater challenges than new build projects. At the SVS,these were compounded by the tight building site in the midst of the dense urban fabric,”explains the architect and Lead Project Manager Hannes Achammer. “Thanks to the excellent cooperation with the client and all those involved in the construction, we were still able to complete the project on time and to budget and to the required quality.”
TheSVS Headquarters are located at the junction between Wiedner Hauptstraße, Ziegelofengasse,and Hartmanngassein Vienna’sMargaretendistrict. In order to create a new, prominentmain entrance to the Advice Center as well as an attractive forecourt, the sidewalk to Wiedner Hauptstraßewas lowered – while also taking into account the existing strip of greenery and cycle and pedestrian routes. The high quality artificial stone paving and generous glazing skillfully highlight the entrance area, while optically opening the foyer to the outside.
The existing entrance to the Health Center was shifted to the building’s main axis in order to allow visitors to enter centrally and without any barrier. This is now located onHartmanngasseto the southwest.
The SVS building complexisfunctionally broken down into theapproximately 37-meter-high Advice Centerwith offices and the extension, which was added a few years later and is used as a special clinicand Health Center. The building volume was largely unaltered by the conversion measures, while the interior was (almost) completely gutted, refurbished, and upgraded with state-of-the-art technology. All the offices in the Advice and Health Centers are laid out with a constant 2.50 meter gridand can be flexibly changed in line with future use requirements.
1. Advice Center/Offices
The central element and the primary eyecatcher in the generous3.5-meter-high entrance hall is the expressively curved infodesk. This spatially separates the semi-public areas from thebusy foyer and offers the employees of the front office an excellent overview of the entrance and waiting area, lifts,and access barriers.A sliding glass wall also makes it possible to separate the Advice Center andfoyer from the adjacent café.
In the southwestern part of the entrancehall, the advice rooms are directly located behind the façadetoHartmanngasse. The waiting area in front of these rooms creates an “island solution”, which offers a discrete area for advising clients. This area is spatially broken up by intermediate niches and accentuated by moss-colored walls.
The treatment rooms and associated ancillary spaces are located at the end of this waiting area, where there are fewest visitors. Continuing along the curved corridor, one then crosses the existing stair tower before arriving at the health center. A new lift also ensures barrier-free access to this area.
The area of the “old” main entrance is now occupied by thecanteen. Due to the generous façade glazing, this appears to extend visually into the external space. The café is located at the end of the canteen.
Starting at the 1st floor of the Advice Center, the office and administration spaces rise over nine stories. A series of targeted measures transform the “outdated” offices into amodernoffice landscape with a feel-good atmosphere. The narrow corridors with plasterboardwalls have been replaced with atransparentpartition system that combinesvariable, clearly structured zoneswith maximumflexibility in the working areas.
The existing open-plan offices on the 1st and 2nd floors were restructured and are now fronted by two offices for group leaders together with the secretariat. The circulation core is surrounded by a generous, partly two-story communication zone with “retreat boxes” for short meetings and telephone calls as well as smaller meeting units, which are positioned freely in the space. Open tea kitchens and a “Coffee Corner”, designed as an island, are conceived to encourageinformalcommunicationamongst employees.The standard upper levels(3rd to 7th floor), contain a variety of group offices that are organized in two rows around the core. Despite the rigid corridor plan of the existing office floors, transparentglass walls alternate with solid door/wall panels with a warm wooden finish to create abright and friendly working environment.
The 8th floor is home to a range ofseminar and meeting rooms and an events space for up to 120 people, from which one can enjoy breathtaking views across Vienna. The generous lounge area, which was added as an extra building volume, and the roof terracetransform the entire level into an attractiveand contemporary event location.
2. Health Center
One first enters the Health Center, like the Advice Center, through a large entrance hall with aninfodeskand waiting area. The spaces for initial examinations, the laboratories, and the general treatment rooms are positioned close to this entrance.Further treatment and examination rooms and the radiological area, with itsmammography, ultrasound, and therapy facilities, are located around the central zone on the ground floor as well as on the 1st floor. In both cases, a generous waiting hall acts as the hub of the layout. The newly created lightwell in the southwestern corner of the complexnot only draws enough daylight deep into the building but also makes it possible to use the basement for further treatment rooms.
A procedure room with a“holding area”, several outpatients’ areas, and two gymnastics rooms are located on the 1st floor. The 2nd floor is the “calmest” zone with few patients. It contains rooms for the discussion of diagnoses andtherapies as well as theback office. The 3rd to 5th floors are exclusively occupied by offices.
New look with a “heartbeat” grid
While, the new, rear-ventilated, bronze-colored metal façadecontinues the warm pastel tones of the surrounding late 19th-century buildings, the white frames positioned in front this façade define the new“rhythm” of the buildingcomplex – which conceptually refers to a healthy person’s heartbeat. This grid visually combines the base, the main building, and the extensioninto a homogeneous headquarters, whileintegrating the huge volume into the surrounding cityscape by reducing the dominance of the individual floors and establishing connections with the neighboring buildings. The generous glazing separates the ground floor base zone from the rest of the building and creates extratransparency that optically extends the interiors into the surrounding exterior space. In order to open up the views from inside to outside, the slats in the façade are directly aligned with the column grid. Any additional vertical elements are integrated into thewindow divisions in order to prevent any suchelementsfrom blocking the areas of glazing.
Rather than merely improving the building visually, the refurbishment project was also required to massively improve its energy efficiency: Hence, the existing façade – a reinforced concrete parapet on the 1st floor and lightweight construction withstone/aluminum cladding on the 2nd to 8th floors – was removed and replaced with a composite aluminum panel and windowconstruction. The cantilevered slabs were also completely demolished and replaced by rear-ventilatedaluminum cladding. 16-cm-thick thermal insulation and triple glazing(Ug= 0.5 W/m²K) now ensure high-quality thermal protection.
The roofs were also completely upgraded, with all flat roofs being replaced with warm roofs (PIR insulation with tapered insulation panels, bitumen waterproofing) and gravel. The roofs to the 1st and 2nd floors are extensively planted.
[building services | sustainability]
The limited spaces and floor-to-ceiling heights presented a challenge to the reorganizationof the technical plant rooms and service runs. As a result, the technical equipment and service runs had to be designed in detail from the very start, just like in a new building. The design team also had to constantly consider the impact of these services issues on the shell & core construction.
The existing central plant room on the 3rd floor of the main building was completely demolished and rebuilt as a lightweight construction. This led to an increase in its size. Most of the new building services are located in the approx. 4,500 m2of the low raised floor, invisible to both clients and employees.
Comfortand energy efficiency
Upon visiting the modern offices, one is impressed by the sense of comfort. The building services achieved this with the help of a series of measures:
- heating/cooling ceilings in the plasterboard acoustic ceilings,
- the mechanical ventilation of thevisitor spaces combined with opening windows,
- direct/indirect suspended lights withpresence and daylight sensors,
- centrally controlled solar protection with potential local override,
- and individual room controlswith BUS controller.
All these measures are aligned with the goals of the ÖGNI (Austrian Sustainable Building Council). Further key steps for increasing the sustainability of the project included the switch of the heatingsystemto district heating, theinstallation of high-efficiencyventilation and cooling plant, the quality assurance of the construction ecology tested materialsvia productand chemicals management, noise protection, and theblower-doortesting of the external envelope.