Created on the site of Austrian steel company Voestalpine's HQ in Linz, this sculptural Pastoral Care complex is the latest offering from emerging architecture practice X Architekten. The centre was designed to serve both liturgical and secular functions for the company's personnel and is set in a disused space next to their industrial estate.
The main building incorporates a chapel, meeting and event rooms, offices, workshops and a bar. In order for the building to fit within the surrounding urban and industrial landscape, the architects opted for an abstract contemporary form, rather than using a more traditional ecclesiastical architectural language. The shape was developed further in relation to the area's hilly geography, by 'cutting into and hollowing out the hillside'.
Nestled within an embankment of dark slag-stone and pebbledash, the building is made of concrete and clad internally - as well as externally in parts - in white painted wood in the chapel, event room and bar area. Its main circulation axis leads out to the woods.
Outside the main building sits a wooden shed, containing storage and gardening facilities, as well as a steel carport. A mesh metal 'bell court' (its hollow form is ideal for distributing the sound) is incorporated into the main structure, whose planted roof serves as a garden.
The complex's irregular shape leads to an equally polygonal ground floor plan that arranges the workspaces to the north and the more social and religious areas to the south. Above the ground floor is second level housing guest rooms, an apartment and a youth area. Flexible and multifunctional, the centre features room dividers that allow for a choice of either separating the spaces into rooms or uniting them into a single large hall.
With a shape that cleverly accommodates all the different uses in a homogenous and harmonious space, this centre offers a modern response to the Voestalpine community's need for integrating religious and secular facilities.