The Joanneumsviertel Center, located in Graz, Austria, was designed by the prestigious Spanish architecture firm Nieto Sobejano Architects. The building, completed in 2011, was built on the site of the former Landesmuseum Joanneum, which was originally constructed in the 19th century. Nieto Sobejano Architects prioritized the revitalization of the urban landscape while also exalting the historical heritage of the area. The center is situated in the heart of the city and spans across an impressive 53,000 square meters, making it one of the largest cultural centers in Europe.
The Joanneumsviertel Center houses several museums and galleries, including the Neue Galerie, the Natural History Museum, and the Steiermärkische Landesbibliothek. The center’s design showcases a unique blend of old and new, with the historical facades of the original buildings incorporated into the modern design. The roofscape of the center is also a notable feature, with a series of interconnected glass panels that provide stunning views of the city and surrounding hills.
Joanneumsviertel Center Technical Information
- Architects: Nieto Sobejano
- Typology: Cultural Architecture / Restoration, Museum & Library
- Location: Graz, Austria
- Client: Steiermark Government, Austria
- Material: Concrete and Curved glass
- Project year: 2008
- Photographs: © Roland Halbe
We simply define a new pavement […] This decision favours the valorisation of the existing historical buildings […]– Nieto Sobejano Architects
Joanneumsviertel Center Photographs
© Roland Halbe
Joanneumsviertel: A Unique Blend of History and Contemporary Architecture
Text by the Architects
The Joanneumsviertel of Graz consists of three buildings from different eras and uses, sharing the rear facades that shaped a residual backyard: the Museum of Natural History -of the eighteenth century, the Regional Library, and the New Gallery of Contemporary Art, these last ones built in the late XIX. Different coexisting facilities belonging to the same institution raised the need to provide shared access, reception areas, a conference room, reading areas, and services, plus a lower level reserved for files and storage.
Facing the temptation of carrying out an iconic intervention, as so often has happened in recent expansions of existing museums, on the other hand, the project involved a unique opportunity to carry out an urban transformation as well as architectural. If the historic center of Graz is renowned for its expressive covered landscape, our proposal is developed on the contrary, entirely under the ground: we simply define a new pavement, as if it was like a big carpet, it occupies the entire outer area between buildings and hides underground spaces that house the required program.
This decision favors the valorization of the existing historical buildings which is carried out a respectful restoration with its architectural features acting only occasionally in some interior areas without affecting the original image and external volume. The continuous horizontal plane of the new square is scheduled for a combinatorial series of circular courtyards that introduce natural light into the underground spaces and harbor the entrance. The lobby, the common areas of the museum, and the library compound a meeting point to access to each one of them.