On the outskirts of the Austrian city of Salzburg, architecture studio Smartvoll transformed a warehouse used to repair tanks during wartime into Panzerhalle—an indoor food market with restaurants and event spaces on the first level, and a beauty parlor on the second level.
But the building's crowning glory is located on the third and topmost level—Loft Panzerhalle is a fantastical multi-purpose apartment dominated by a massive staircase that flows into passageways and rooms on the loft’s upper level.
To ensure that the 3,767-square-foot loft has uniformly bright interiors, Smartvoll left the upper ribbon window free, and distributed the bedroom, bathroom, and guest room along this area.
"Through the stair sculpture, which spans across the rooms, you do not see the way between the levels as a vertical, functional connection, but rather as an electric spatial experience," says one of Smartvoll’s founders, Christian Kircher.
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At the heart of the space, on the lower level, is a monolithic, 23-foot-long kitchen island with planters incorporated along one side.
The undulating stairs divide the floor plan and create a roof over the kitchen. Recessed areas carved into the staircase allow daylight to reach the lower level. "This allows you to stay in motion—and to see everything from everywhere," says Kircher.
Kircher refers to the mammoth staircase as "architecture within the architecture."
"Concreted in-house, the engineering is being exhausted in all respects. A tender object with minimal dimensions, but tremendous spatial impact. Besides the concrete, only subtle, semi-transparent materials are being used, such as Profilit, to separate the guest areas, curtains for the bedroom, or integrated furniture, like a hanging steel shelf. Every other piece of furniture seems to be integrated into the construction. The result is an unalterable picture, which celebrates only free space," he says.
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