Bringing a new way of living to Vienna

by Julie Humphryes

Cantilevering dramatically on top of a hill on the outskirts of Vienna, Philips Haus is a 1960s icon. Designed by the heroic Austrian modernist architect Karl Schwanzer (1918-1975), the 11 storey office building is a landmark well known to anyone approaching the city from the south.

When Schwanzer designed Philips Haus in 1962-64 for the Philips company, it was the first relocation of a large administrative office from the centre of Vienna to the outskirts of the city. Now the building is to be a pioneer again by bringing a radical new housing concept to the city – fully furnished micro apartments. We are delighted to have been appointed to design the conversion of the building into these apartments for art collector Norbert Winkelmayer, our client for the Sans Souci hotel in the centre of the city and the owner of the quirky Hundertwasser museum.

Archer Humphryes is creating 16 apartments on each of the 11 residential floors including five different apartment types. Our design adds some curvaceous interior forms to take away from the rigidity of the orthogonal grid and homage to the 1960’s design where plastic molding allowed a new expression in manufactured design of products. For the apartments we have rethought original Schwanzer furniture from the 1960s and are able to re-license the design with our modern overhaul and utilise these pieces within the project, along with other furniture items we have created for the concept.

Schwanzer designed Philips Haus before completing his best-known building, the BMW headquarters in Munich, a tower resembling a cluster of vertical cylinders. His other notable building in Vienna was the recently refurbished Museum of the C20th Century, now known as the 21er Haus. Originally designed as the Austrian Pavilion at the Brussels World Fair of 1958 before being relocated to the Swiss Garden in Vienna as a museum of modern art, it is a notable museum to visit in Vienna

The conversion is expected to take 2 years in this landmark building which will be at the heart of a regenerated quarter in Vienna with new transport links planned. It will launch in early 2017.