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Collections and research centre of the tyrolean state museums

Museum visitors cannot see them, but numerous storage facilities hold valuable historical artefacts. The collections of the Tyrolean State Museums comprise millions of historical treasures, which were preserved in eleven storage facilities at eight locations until a competition was held in 2013 to build a central collections and research centre. Architectural firm Franz&Sue was selected for this with their simple but succinct idea. The massive volume disappears underground and only one flat, almost quadratic, monolithic building structure rises inconspicuously out of the ground, cutting into its hillside location.

Collections and research centre of the tyrolean state museums
Hall in Tirol/AT
Franz und Sue ZT GmbH
State of Tyrol
Construction period:
2015 - 2017
AluKönigStahl GmbH
Schüco systems:
AWS 75 BS.HI, ADS 75, ADS 75.SI

The monolithic building structure stands modestly on the edge of the town of Hall in Tyrol, allowing the Tyrolean mountain panorama to take centre stage.

In addition to the requirement of combining the collections in one location, there were clear specifications for climatic standards such as temperature and humidity, as well as protection against UV radiation and security for the valuable cultural artefacts. The implementation of smooth workflows as well as temporary workstations for researchers likewise needed to be taken into account when designing the modern workshops, laboratories and offices. The spatial concept is clear and stringent. The functions of collecting, researching and relaxing are all connected like layers of an onion. The storage areas take up the bulk of the floor space and are lined up along the façade of the striking volume. The architects used a clever trick to meet the requirements for a climatically self-sufficient storage area by sinking two of the three storeys into the earth. The constant temperature of the earth also allows an optimum temperature of 19° Celsius and 50% humidity to be achieved without elaborate air conditioning technology.

While the storage areas are windowless and air-conditioned, the other rooms are shaped by maximum transparency. The minimal face widths of the T-shaped steel profiles, a special construction for spanning the entire width of 3.60 metres with a glazing height of 11.10 metres, disappear almost entirely from view.

Separated by airlocks and a walkway, the workspaces are arranged along the façade of the green inner courtyard. In contrast to the spaces that were previously spread across several buildings, here the focus is on short routes and a pleasant environment. The departments are assigned to the relevant storage areas, while central communal areas encourage informal communication. The bright and airy rooms along the introverted, sunken open space stand in marked contrast to the outer façade. The closed skin, clad with a layer of dark concrete slabs, appears to be a hermetically sealed-off block outside opening times. Parts of the façade slabs are adorned with an ornament as a tribute to the oldest piece in the collection, a hand axe from 7000-8000 BC. Much like on a treasure chest, the openings cannot be seen at first glance. In place of traditional windows, a series of façade fields opens as required and provides light to the carpenters’ workshops. A large entrance portal draws employees into the building during the day with its signal-red paint. The large staircase that connects each floor can also be seen from afar. Despite the façade height of 11.10 metres, extremely reduced face widths allow maximum views inside and outside. In the inner courtyard, continuous ribbon windows alternate with the vertical timber cladding. Depending on the angle of the sun, the opposite sides are reflected in the glass and break through the formal severity of the inner courtyard façade.

Text: Eva Maria Herrmann
Photos: Andreas Buchberger, Christian Flatscher

The internal courtyard is bedecked with local varieties of plants, inviting people to relax there. Horizontal ribbon windows alternate with the timber cladding and make the emerging space appear larger thanks to the reflection.